Life

Teacher brings cultural exchange from the North

By JT McVeigh, The Enterprise-Bulletin

Submitted
Former Collingwood resident Kate Bell, left, is now teaching high school in Rankin Inlet. She is bringing 32 young hockey players to Toronto on a cultural exchange hosted by Experiences Canada, a charity supported by the government of Canada,
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Submitted Former Collingwood resident Kate Bell, left, is now teaching high school in Rankin Inlet. She is bringing 32 young hockey players to Toronto on a cultural exchange hosted by Experiences Canada, a charity supported by the government of Canada, w

The opportunity to get a full-time teaching assignment has led to the trip of a lifetime for 32 young hockey players.

A couple of years ago, Kate Bell couldn’t find enough work even as a supply teacher in Thames Valley or Simcoe County, so she looked north. After more than a full year of teaching in Nunavut under her belt, Bell is coming back to Ontario through a cultural and learning exchange with a youth hockey team to Toronto.

Bell’s classroom is in Rankin Inlet, a two-and-a-half hour jet flight north of Winnipeg.

“Kids from where I live probably never get to experience the things that the kids in Toronto do.”

Things are a little different up north than what she was used to in Collingwood. The community hosts about 3,500 people and it is a fly-in community.

This is the second school year Bell has taught in Nunavut. She teaches at the high-school level in computers and technology.

The transition wasn’t difficult for Bell.

“Honestly, I was at a point in my life that I knew I had to make a change in my career,” says Bell. “I actually wasn’t able to get a job in Collingwood. I wanted full time, I wanted my own classroom and I wanted to see if I could bring something to the community and do more things, like athletics. I am very big into sports and love the kids and that’s why I’m involved with the hockey.”

There are a lot of things of convenience items in the south that people in Rankin don't have but there are a lot of elements to life that folks in the south wish they did have.

 “You give up a lot, but there are a lot of benefits. Coming from the south you have to learn how to live by problem solving,” says Bell. “You know if your truck breaks down, it’s a lot of money just to put a tire back on. You have to be able to do it yourself. You learn to eat off the land with your fish, muskox and caribou. There is a large supermarket,but things are expensive you just don’t go to the grocery store for hamburger beef, you make your own.”

When Bell got settled she wanted to help out volunteering, and being athletic she offered to help with the minor hockey. She quickly became coach of the local Atom team.

“So I decided to coach three days a week. From that, I had somebody contact me from Toronto,” said Bell. 

The Northern Exchange experience includes NHL and AHL Hockey games, trips to the Royal Ontario Museum, Hockey Hall of Fame, Niagara Falls, nature walks and a lot of hockey.

The players will spend the day at the MasterCard Centre watching the Toronto Maple Leafs practice, touring the archives and dressing rooms, meeting NHL Alumni and filming a segment for Hockey Night in Canada.

They will also see a Cirque du Soleil show.

In April when the Toronto families head north, they will experience ice fishing, square dancing and trying local cuisine.

The exchange program paid for half of the kids to attend while Bell and community organized fundraising for the $60,000 that was necessary to bring the rest of the kids down.

“Rankin is a northern government hub,” says Bell. “It has a taxi service, $5 cash one stop, two restaurants, three hotels, and we are very big in terms of the airport. We are the hub for all the small communities that surround us. They have to come in and out of Rankin for them to go anywhere they want to go.”

“I think this exchange will be an eye-opener for both groups,” said Bell.

jmcveigh@postmedia.com

 



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