Never say Die: FOXY in Aklavik!

Despite the freezing cold weather, our charter landed and we went to the lovely little Inn, where we met some people travelling for business. We had an incredibly warm room, and three cozy little beds. The team felt right at home in our quaint little Inn.

After a really, really warm night at the Inn the team got up for some breakfast, and left for the school as soon as we could. Once we got there we were surprised at just how beautiful the school was and after a quick jot around the school we were ready to go. We got to the classroom, which also happened to be ridiculously warm (Northern communities sure do like their buildings warm), and we started packing up all the desks to prepare for the day ahead. Girls started arriving at around nine, but there were obvious stragglers, which are expected in a high school.

Just like in all the workshops, there are big personalities and the smaller ones. By that I mean there are the girls who jump into it, and are goofs from the start and then there are girls who stay quiet, still listening, and participating, but just in more of a reserved way. In Aklavik we were lucky to have a balance of the two. The girls were a great group, and the more engaged ones were encouraging the others to participate more avidly, and we all know the effects of peer pressure even if we rarely see its good side, sometimes it can be helpful. Friendly encouragement is a less aggressive term; they were encouraged by their friends to participate more fervently so that all the girls could get the most out of the workshop.

The thing about small communities is that usually things are pretty close together, so when you have a school 30 meters away from a runway it makes for… distraction. Thankfully the Aklavik runway isn’t a high traffic area, so for the most part we managed our workshop without interruptions, but when a plane did land it was startling to say the least, although there might have been an instance where we were under the impression a small northern community in the middle of nowhere was the target of an enemy military attack, otherwise the planes posed no inconvenience.

At lunch we had a few girls join us in eating chili and cheese buns, which was very enjoyable. When we spend lunch with the girls it’s when we really get to break the barrier, we go from being strangers asking them to talk about sex and feelings to those women they spent lunch with, and had a really good time. We love spending lunch with the girls too! It gives us a chance to actually get to know them, rather than just lead them through activities. Some of our shyest girls turned out to be giggly goof balls as soon as lunch began, and that just goes to show that there are two sides to everyone.

We left the Foxes with heavy hearts, after nearly every one of them told us they wished we could stay, or come back tomorrow leaving was difficult. However, staying would defeat an element we highlight in the workshops; anonymity. What makes FOXY so great is that we’re there, we talk about awkward, possibly personal things, and then we leave. We’re not there the next day to discuss it with a teacher, family member, or friend, our one to two day visits act as a sort of assurance to the girls that what happens in FOXY, stays in FOXY.

– Jessie Shaw, FOXY Peer Leader