I am a Physical Education teacher at Senator Allen Bird Memorial School from Montreal Lake. Theoretically, I am a white face in a Cree Nation community where the residents see me as an intruder. In reality, I enjoy teaching physical activities for my students and I have many friends there.
Three years ago, I saw a Physical Education teaching job advertise in Montreal Lake and I applied for it. I made a phone call and I set up a meeting with the Principal. Meanwhile, I have started asking questions about this place because I never been there. The popular opinion made me to hear things like… “don’t go there”, “you will not be gone like it” or “it is a bad place”. I made my mind and I went to the job interview. After three years, I am still there and I like teaching there. I am part of the community participating in different local events and I have fun along with Cree Nation people.
The beginning was the beginning, everyone gave me a long glaze as a white man and another long one when they heard that I am Romanian. Usually, I receive three questions when I meet new people everywhere in Canada: How did you get here? Why did you move here? Where is Romania? Soon I am clarifying these curiosities, I am okay with everyone.
Nowadays, everyone knows me: my face and my accent, and I know my students: their culture, their athletic skills, their preferences and their families. We have learned about each other and still doing so because in an ongoing process. What is important is that we are getting along.
Over time, I observed their culture because I went to Molanosa Cultural Days two years in a row and I have been taking part in some extra-school events such as 2019 Woodland Cree Gathering and 2019 Youth Woodland Cree Gathering where I have organized different sports events. The point is that I participated and organized this events without feeling any discrimination. The children and youth realize that I am there to make them better. The locals appreciate seeing their future generation developing. I have a sense of accomplishment when I see all of these.
I am a white man and they are Cree, but the good will is most important. The locals are seeing me working hard and doing good things, and they respond with respect and friendship. A good example is the fishing experience on the Montreal Lake. One time, two of my local friends came to me and invited me to go fishing. I told them that I did fishing a couple of times in my life. No problem just come with us and have you will learn. I did not catch any fish for the first half an hour where my friends were catching one fish after other. They realize that and have started to teach me how to do it. Overall, I remember that I had four fishes. The surprise came after because they gave me all the fishes. I asked why and I wanted to pay but they did not accept money. The fish is coming from nature and from the Creator so what is a gift for us is a gift for you too. This great experience shows how well we are coexisting together, without discrimination and without any racism.