Alexa’s Dawson City, Yukon Practicum Experience
Bachelor of Education Student, Alexa Mitchell traveled to the Yukon to participate in 2012 Alternative Practicum in Dawson City. She traveled with three other students (Anita Holtmann, Caitlin Malcolmson, Elliot Mcdonald) and their faculty advisor, Dr. Brian Lewthwaite. While in the Yukon she prepared the following reflection of her experiences.
Alexa Mitchell’s Dawson City, Yukon Practicum Experience
Well, after almost a year of anticipation and planning we finally made it to Dawson City, Yukon!!! We have been here for a week and it has been absolutely amazing!! The town is fantastic, the people are very welcoming and friendly, and we have been having a lot of fun!
We left Winnipeg very early on March 14th, flew to Vancouver and then to Whitehorse where we spent the night. We did a bit of shopping in Whitehorse but mostly just relaxed in the afternoon because we were all pretty tired after our flight. The next morning Caitlin, Anita, and I had an early flight on Air North to Dawson City. Brian and Elliot drove up the same day and met us later in the evening. The flight was great, and we had an awesome view of the Yukon landscape, which is absolutely breathtaking.
When we got here we settled into our new homes, and met our billets. Anita and I are living together and are very close to downtown Dawson. We each have our own room, and the man we are living with is a teacher at the school. It has been great living with someone that knows so much about the town, school, and community.
We had some time to wander around town in the afternoon the day we arrived. Anita and I got very lost trying to find somewhere to eat lunch. This seems so silly now considering how small the town actually is! We did some shopping, looked at some beautiful artwork, and soaked in the atmosphere of Dawson city. The town is very quaint, and the buildings are all very unique and colorful! Dawson City is located about 500km north west of Whitehorse. It is close to the Alaskan border, and we are surrounded by mountains and rolling hills. The town is small, about 10 blocks by 20 blocks, and has a population of about 1200 people. The people here are very friendly and welcoming, and we felt at home instantly!
On our second day here we met with Brian, our faculty advisor, and he gave as a tour of the town focusing on the cultural side. We visited the cultural center where we learned about the Trondek Hwech’in First Nations people that live in the area. It was fascinating to hear about their history, and to see the strong ties that people here have to the culture. There are many positive role models within the community, and the First Nations people are very open to sharing and teaching us about their culture. We also spent some time at the Heritage Department where we learned about how we could make our lessons more relevant to our Yukon students, and were given some amazing resources to use. Brian then took us to the Trondek Hwech’in hall where they have a free community lunch every Friday. The food was fantastic! We had some of the best salmon and bannock I’ve ever tried, and met some very interesting people.
Our first weekend in Dawson was also the weekend of the annual “Thaw-di-gras” spring festival. They had contests, street hockey, a chili cook-off, dog mushing races, lip sync contests, and a ton of other events. It was the perfect weekend to arrive. We met a lot of people, and had a fantastic time! This is an annual event held every spring to celebrate the sun coming back, and the weather changing. Everyone was in good spirits, and we had a great weekend!
We have been teaching at the school for a week now. We had a chance to get acquainted with our cooperating teachers and meet our students. The students seem as excited to have guests in the school, as we are to be here. The school and the community are both very busy. There is a lot going on, and it would be impossible to be bored here. Dawson has a great recreation program, and people here are very active. I’m looking forward to going snowshoeing and cross country skiing this week with my grade 9-10 Phys Ed class, and going to drop in volleyball and badminton games in the evening. We are also planning a hiking day trip, and will be doing some snowmobiling and dog mushing in the near future!
The first 10 days of this experience have been tremendous. I have loved every minute of my time here so far, and am sure the rest of this experience will be just as great. I’m already planning when I can come back to visit! We would all like to thank the residents of Dawson City for welcoming us into the community with open arms, and appreciate the opportunity that you are giving us to learn about your town, culture, and the Yukon.
~ Alexa Mitchell, BEd/12
For more information about the Bachelor of Education Alternative Program see the story: Alternative Practicum 2012