I first encountered ‘Mr. PG’ in the summer I completed the Professional Development Program (PDP) at Simon Fraser University. I was keen to start my career as a teacher and to have my own classes, so I applied for a teaching position ‘north of Hope’ … in Fort St. James. Over the phone, I said an enthusiastic ‘yes!’ to the offer; then I pulled out a map to chart my road trip.
Growing up in the Lower Mainland, we would sometimes drive out to Hope for breakfast on a weekend. For high school kids living in the city, it felt like a drive out into the country. Hope was our idea of ‘the interior’, and we had no concept of what existed beyond Hope. We did not appreciate the richness and beauty of this province, hidden in plain sight upstream on the Fraser River.
The thrill and vistas of that first extended drive well beyond Hope into the Cariboo Chilcotin is with me still: there was so much space! My first autumn and winter in the North wooed me: actual seasons – who knew? And, of course, there were the people. The people were different from those I knew: I wasn’t used to the rugged demeanour and loud affection of people who embraced me wholeheartedly, and gently mocked my city-bred awkwardness.
It was a long drive, so I committed to two years … three tops.
I called the North my home for eleven years before the needs of a young family and aging parents drew me away. But to this day – when I have ‘teacher dreams’ – they are set in that small logging town.
I was excited to discover that Connecting Leaders 2020: The Changing Nature of Leadership would be held in Prince George. As conference hosts, the team in PG will introduce attendees to the beauty and welcoming nature of BC’s North. For the first time in many years, I will travel beyond Hope to join the Northern Region Chapters’ hosts as they anchor this year’s conference October 22-23. It is going to be a refreshing time of learning and connecting … and I am eager to pose for a selfie with ‘Mr. PG’: together again, after all these years!
Traveling to Prince George seemed like a great opportunity to visit some of the Chapters in that region. So early next week, I’ll be heading to SD 82 Coast Mountains (Terrace), then traveling Highway 16 to SD 54 Bulkley Valley (Smithers) before stopping in SD 57 Prince George for the conference and a Chapter visit. Then it’s on to SD 91 Nechako Lakes (Vanderhoof), and SD 92 Nisga’a (Aiyansh) before I swing back to Terrace and head back to Vancouver. I hope that I’ll have the opportunity to visit other Chapters this Fall, with all safety protocols in place. In the spirit of ‘connecting leaders’, it’s important for me to connect with you.