"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."
"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on social uplift is approaching spiritual death."
Each of these quotes was spoken by one of the most revolutionary figures of a generation, possibly of an entire century. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was two weeks ago in the United States. The national holiday celebrates the birthday of a man who wouldn't take 'no' for an answer, working tirelessly with hundreds of other nameless Americans; a man who was eventually murdered in the fight to make the future for his children just a little bit better.
Yes, I know Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was ages ago in the digital world, but I am a procrastinator. Get over it.
The holiday reminded me of the struggles people face in the northernmost reaches of 'this great nation.' Struggles that are largely dismissed, if they are acknowledged at all. So many people look at reserves and think, "They have it easy. Everything's paid for, their all on welfare and they spend their entire paycheck on booze. What do they have to complain about?"
To be frank, since I've been here, I have realized just how easy it is to become jaded and just how quickly it can occur. Teenagers who have tried cocaine before their sweet 16 and binge drinking to the point of passing out on the weekends on a regular basis. Opioid dependance in the community to such an extent that patients have to sign a contract for random urine screens. Girls who are barely finished puberty coming for pregnancy and STI tests or being brought to emerg by NAPS in the height of a psychotic break.
This community has been broken and nobody seems to care. It is enough to make you want to leave, just so you don't have to face it.
The exasperating thing is that the community has the antidote right here. The elders, the keepers of ceremony and tradition, want nothing more than for their children on down to their great-great-grandchildren, to be interested in learning these traditions. Yet the children here are so often interested in nothing more than fitting in. This community may be isolated physically from the outside world, but we get television and radio. The children know what life is like of the reserve. Slowly these traditions are being lost, these traditions that could save an entire people.
Speaking of being isolated, since when does it cost well over $500 and up to three days to travel somewhere in the same province? We have a railroad that extends the length of the country, into the United States. A rail line that was built over 130 years ago. One hundred and thirty years ago builders found a way to blast their way through the most imposing geological feature on our continent to build a railway and bring British Columbia into confederation.
Why in the 130 year since, has no one been able to build a railroad, or at the very least a road, that extends to the northernmost reaches of Ontario? Currently trains only reach as far a Moosonee, and there are no roads any communities north of there from April until the end of December.
There has to be a solution. To conclude this rant, I will say this. For those who subscribe to an individualistic perspective in which one should resolve one's own problems: humans are pack animals and always have been. So this quote should explain a few things.
Now this is the Law of the Jungle -- as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back --
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.
From The Law of the Jungle by Rudyard Kipling
Moving on now to updates!
I realize that an unacceptable amount of time has passed since I last updated all of you as to my experiences here in Fort Albany. So I will try to remember everything!
Friday January 20, I hitched a ride to Moosonee with a friend who is an RPN at the hospital. He was going to pick up his snow mobile which was coming up on the train (which, you'll remember only comes as far as Moosonee). So we took his truck down the winter road.
For those of you who are not familiar with a winter road (as I was before I came here), it is a road that is prepared over a body of ice. In this case, there is a river the runs the length of the coast, from Moosonee up past Fort Albany, Kashechewan and on to Attawapiskat. When the river is frozen enough (usually by Christmas or New Years) they plough it, flood it where necessary to remove any large bumps, and grate the top to provide at least some traction. It is not very level and if you aren't careful you can bottom out your car going over a large bump or into a depression. You can hit rocks that protrude through the ice (though they do their best to mark all of them). The winter road is one of the main employers in Fort Albany through the winter.
So we took that 'road' down to Moosonee on the Friday so he could pick up his snowmobile (or 'Squito, as they are called here) and I made one giant stop at the grocery store! For hundred dollars later..... Went I visited this same grocery store in Moosonee the night I stayed over on my way up to Fort Albany, the prices were reminiscent of prices in the south. Turns out the jack the prices once the winter road is open and ready, presumably to take advantage of all the shoppers who come down for cheaper prices (like me!).
Considering there is no fresh meat for sale in the grocery store here, I stocked up on ground beef, chicken breasts and a beef roast - over $100 in meat alone!!! I spent the entirety of the next day cooking, cooking away. I used half of the ground beef to make spaghetti sauce and half the roast for stew. I took everything (including the chicken), separated and frozen them. I believe I am set for dinners until I come home!
Speeeaking of which, it looks like I am coming home sooner than planned! If I work Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm as I plan, I should be completing my last shift on March 15th. St. Paddy's Day party anyone? haha!
As for my placement, the last time I updated, I was still working with the home care nurse (geez, has it been that long since I updated?). Since then I have begun to work with a registered nurse at the hospital itself.
Just to recap, the hospital is made up of about 15 inpatient beds, which are all long-term care, a clinic for which patients book appointments but which also accepts walk ins and an emergency room. There is a nurse practitioner on staff who typically works every other month and physicians come once or twice a month.
At the end of January, we were supposed to have a doc at the hospital for 4 days. Appointments with the doctors get booked up verrrry quickly, weeks in advance. This time however, bad weather shortened the doctor's visit by a day and a half worth of appointments. The next visit is unfortunately not until the end of February. Thankfully, there will be two docs during that week, so there can be double the amount of appointments!
When I started at the hospital, I was with my regular preceptor. She's a very nice lady who has been working here for about two and a half years (if my calculations are correct, 4th highest seniority in the facility). She moved here directly from India and brought her husband here a few months back. He is also a nurse. With her I was sitting in on appointments and seeing certain assessments, taking the lead on some.
However the gentleman who manages the clinic unexpectedly went on holiday at the beginning of this past week, so my preceptor has had to fill in. When the NP came back from her holiday, they placed me with her. Her style of teaching is more, "Go for it. If you miss something, I'll jump in and correct you." For instance, this week a man on blood thinners came in for blood work to check how they were working. I had already seen her and my preceptor do a couple of blood withdrawls, so she just told me to go for it, and corrected me and gave me a hand when I needed it. When things got slow between walk-ins and appointments, we either looked through prenatal charts to make sure all appointments and tests are up-to-date or she would walk me through certain types of exams or lab work, etc. In just this week, I feel like I've learned so much!
This coming week, I am with the NP for the first couple of days and then with another nurse for the rest, as my preceptor is still overseeing the duties of the clinical coordinator.
I have updated the countdown to he right to reflect the change in my return status! Hopefully, I will post an update sooner than this next time!
Thanks go out to my parents and sisters as well as the Rumble(etc) clan for a lovely package. That candy certainly won't help with my diet, but the gum is more than welcome!
(For those not in the 'know' my aunt saw my post here about how expensive twizzlers are, so she sent up TWO bags in my birthday surprise package!)
Also, thoughts are with Linda and her recovery! Take the opportunity to take it easy and say 'no' to a few things for a while! Love you, B xoxo