Considering that I am not much of a morning person, I was quite proud of how early I woke up this morning. I wanted to give myself enough time to get ready, eat breakfast, and make sure that I was not forgetting anything important (although I had closed my suitcase before bed and refused to let myself open it again because I knew that I would only end up stressing about whether or not to add or remove anything).
After saying goodbye to my aunt, uncle, and cousins (I will probably miss my three-year-old sidekick the most), my parents and sister drove me downtown to catch the ferry. I had never flown out of the Toronto Island Airport before today, so this was a pretty exciting experience for me. The ferry ride was ridiculously short (it will be nice when they finish building the underwater walkway) and my experience at the airport was fantastic. It was nice to be away from the hustle and bustle of a major international airport. Plus, the free tea and snacks were a nice bonus too!
I haven’t mentioned this yet, but today was the start of an eight week adventure for me in Northern Ontario. I will be working with Frontier College as a Camp Counsellor with the Lieutenant Governor’s Summer Aboriginal Reading Camp. After a week of Training in Thunder Bay, I will be flying into the First Nations community of Fort Albany for a seven-week stay. This is an experience that I have been looking forward to for a very long time and, despite feeling a mix of nervous and excited, I am really looking forward to living and working in a new environment for the summer. I have no expectation about what the experience will be like, but I know that I am going to learn a lot.
After some time by myself in the airport lounge (I somehow managed to spill my tea on at least three different occasions), I met up with my teammate and two other people who are also participating in the program. It was nice to finally chat with a group of people in the same situation as me and it was reassuring to hear that a lot of us shared the same feelings and had the same questions about the experience.
Finally, we said our goodbyes to the Toronto skyline and boarded the plane!
I sat beside another girl with Frontier College on the plane and the trip went by relatively quickly. Before I knew it, we were descending towards Thunder Bay. It is hard to describe feeling that I had when I l first looked out of the window as we were landing. In many ways, this was one moment when the reality of what I am doing really started to sink in. In that moment I also felt a strong sense of release and freedom. I have been craving adventure and space for a while now and I certainly hope to find these things (among many others) this summer.
We were met at the airport by three Frontier College staff who helped us load our things into a truck and drove us to Lakehead University. It seems to be a nice campus and I hope to do some more exploring while I am here. We were assigned rooms in townhouse-style residences with other members of our teams (as of right now there are only two of us assigned to Fort Albany, but we are not entirely sure if others will be joining us). The five of us who had flown in on the same flight seemed to be the only ones who had arrived yet, so we did some exploring off-campus and got ourselves some lunch. We also made a few stops to pick up things that we had forgotten, including food that we had all been too worried about trying to pack but was beginning to seem pretty essential.
By the time we returned to campus for dinner, most of the other counsellors had arrived. I had a chance to chat with a returning counsellor who worked in Fort Albany a few summers ago, which was really nice. Afterwards, we had the night to ourselves and I just spent some time meeting a few of the other counsellors and getting settled in.
It has been a long day of travelling and I am looking forward to meeting everyone and getting started with training tomorrow morning!