IODE in Labrador
Noreen Salari and June McDonald, National President and First-Vice President, travelled in September to Labrador to review the results of IODE support to Labrador schools. Their eight-day visit was initiated by the two Labrador school boards. The tragedy of September 11 and a strike by school secretaries and custodians altered the original itinerary but they did manage to visit nine schools.
In 1979 when National President Sally Douglas and Labrador Chairman Ann McCartney made the first of such visits by IODE officers, Labrador residents told them that Canada had forgotten them and didn't care. Conditions for children growing up in Labrador have improved significantly thanks to reorganization of the education system, new economic opportunities and the long-term assistance of IODE. Although IODE help is still needed, the future has brightened.
The first visit in 2001 was to Jens Haven Memorial School, Nain. Circumstances have improved in the community. The wave of youth suicides recorded in 1999 has stopped and only three cases of child abuse have been reported. Teacher Marilyn Chubbs thanked IODE for the yearly financial support for the IODE Home Economics Room. Inuit Danny Ford, a former Jens Haven student, who teaches the Grade 6 class praised IODE for our aid from his perspective as both student and teacher. The gym, used by students and the community needs equipment and the Industrial Arts room needs small tools.
Paulette Wiseman, for many years IODE coordinator at Peenamin McKenzie School in Sheshatshiu, is now principal. She proudly reported that despite the problems arising from teen pregnancies, last year there was 100 percent graduation from Grade 12 at this Innu school. Students from kindergarten to Grade 12 enjoy Snack Pack. Junior students must provide scribblers and pens while those in senior grades must buy textbooks. School supplies from adopting chapters are welcome.
Lake Melville School in nearby Northwest River is old but well equipped. Some Innu leaders prefer to send their children there for English Immersion and to build a better rapport for their children with residents.
Paula Dawe, a K-1 teacher at Peacock Elementary in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, prepares breakfast, lunch and snacks with assistance from IODE and Kids Eat Smart. Grade 3 teacher Anne Bitsack, the proud mother of Labrador Bursary recipients Paul, Gregg and Jessica, thanked IODE for financial and personal support. A student at the school told how much he had enjoyed the Adopt-A-Class program and regretted his senior class was not adopted this year. Sadly, alcohol and gambling are prevalent community problems.
Conditions at St. Mary's All-Grade School, Mary's Harbour and St. James School, Lodge Bay are positive. Both communities benefit from crab fishing and processing and it is claimed there is a job for anyone willing to work.
A Saturday visit to Goose High provided an opportunity to see the auditorium, Theatre Arts and English classrooms. This school built in the 1940s will be replaced within two years.
Fog prevented a visit to Amos Comenius School, Hopedale. The school year had not started at Nukum Mani Shan School in Davis Inlet because a full complement of teachers had not yet been hired.