After all these years, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. That’s quite a statement from someone who originally came north for only a couple of years.
Terry's Story - Fort Simpson
I came to the North as a new teacher 27 years ago now with my husband, who is also an educator. I’ve lived in Fort Simpson for 20 years and I’m now the Superintendent of the Dehcho Divisional Educational Council.
Our first posting was in Chesterfield Inlet and it was a very different world for a gal who grew up in Hamilton, Ontario! I was teaching grades 3 and 4 and there were less than 100 kids in the whole school and less than 200 in the village. We used a honey bucket, our bathroom had no shower, and we had a ringer washer. I came for the adventure, and sure got one. Once my husband and the principal of our school inadvertently netted themselves a beluga whale! The school closed down and the whole village went down to the water to see what the Kabloonas caught! It was a feast for the whole village and a memory that will be with us forever.
Things have certainly changed and modernized in the North since then, but my view of teaching and fitting into a community is the same. If you want to make a difference in your community, you’ve got to become part of it. The people who enjoy living in the small communities of the North are those that attend the feasts, learn about the culture and try traditional activities.
Teachers here get lots of training opportunities. With only 59 teachers in the 8 communities that make up the Dehcho region (compared to probably 6000 teachers in Edmonton alone), there are many opportunities for change and challenge, with great camaraderie and sharing.
As a teacher, you are a role model in the community, so you get called on to work with kids a lot. Clubs like Cubs, Scouts and Cadets are huge successes because teachers get involved.
And then of course, there is the outdoors. This is the place for you if you like the outdoors. With Nahanni National Park and the Mackenzie River in our back yard, there is so much to see and do. And our less hectic pace here gives you plenty of time to try our community-built golf course, curling, hockey, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and more. There is no shortage of things to do in Fort Simpson, that’s for sure!
The cost of living may be higher here, but teachers are paid very well. We also have the Northern Living Allowance tax deduction, which has funded many exotic vacations, or Christmases with family.
As a new teacher here you will be paired up with a mentor who will help you navigate the ways of teaching in the North. Be prepared to wear a lot of hats and to develop some really great relationships with your co-workers and people who live here.