Aside from the biweekly snowfalls far overstaying their welcome, my time in Labrador has continued to be both moving and inspiring. Since my last post, I have been continuing my efforts to improve the food bank services offered by the Labrador Friendship Centre – an organization committed to bettering the lives of Aboriginal peoples. Specifically, I have been working closely with the Community Outreach Director in carrying out interviews with food bank clients using a survey that I designed. The survey was created to assess the needs of the clients that were potentially going unaddressed such as dietary restrictions, transportation issues, privacy concerns, etc.
In addition to creating and subsequently making frequent alterations to the survey, the most interesting part of this work has been forcing myself to tailor the way that I deliver each question to each different client during our interview. The clients may have had limited education or at times may only speak the traditional language pertinent to their specific upbringing – in which cases I have had to get a translator to assist me. Because of these factors, I have to continuously check myself to make sure I’m not introducing foreign concepts or words that they may have never come across. One of the most eye-opening examples of this were the survey questions we originally included related to privacy. My partner often expressed concern that the entire process of signing up and using the food bank was not private enough. However, when I would address this concern with clients to see what their take was, I quickly began to understand that for many of them privacy is a privilege and a luxury that they have never had access to. They would often raise their brows at me and say something along the lines of “Privacy? No, privacy doesn’t matter to me or my family, food is food and we need it”. When I told this to my partner, he quickly referenced a book he had read called “Excuse Me, Your Class Is Showing”. Since then, I’ve still asked the question but have had to completely change the way that I approach it.
Small learning opportunities like that have populated every single day here and have kept me on my toes and excited. Some other notable experiences have come mostly in the form of my epic nightly quests for food. If I want some sustenance other than Tim Hortons or Mary Brown’s fried chicken, I’m looking at 4-5 mile round trip bike rides. Many of these have taken place during the aforementioned snow falls and occasionally, when Canada really decides to let me have it, intense sleet and rain storms. I can only imagine how hilarious I must look to the already-curious locals as a I furiously cascade through throngs of muddy puddles, swerve to avoid oncoming traffic, and then pause to change the song playing through my headphones all with the anticlimactic reward of Subway for the fourth time in three days. Far from my first experience traveling long miles in miserable conditions, but extremely humbling and a testament to Gore-Tex clothing nonetheless. I’m looking forward to continuing and wrapping up this awesome adventure in nine days.