Apr 27, 2010

African Eskimos

We had the world for dinner last night. Jean (French Canadian), Maki (of Japanese descent, grew up in Saskatchewan), Zolly (German Woofer), Sarah (American raised in Belgium and England) and me (over-travelled Surrey boy). Eating a multi-course Mexican feast, washed down by juice and cordial from the fruits of our Vancouver Island land.

The stories that Jean and Maki lovingly told of their 12 years together in Inuit communities of Northern Quebec (where she still does regular stints as a rural doctor) sounded so like my experiences and love of rural Africa and Sarah's days in Latin America - albeit with broken skidoos and ice instead of broken pick-ups and mud.

At one point I shared how the introduction of regular transport and electricity had dramatically changed the feel and social dynamics of my Tanzanian fishing village. Their experience of satellite TV and internet in the Arctic was equally vivid - the arrival of internet-procured husbands from Cameroon and Brazil.

This long-overdue gathering came about through a "social inclusion" fundraiser at school - Jean and Maki being the highest bidder for a mystery dinner. They didn't know it was Sarah's offering until after bidding - the "mystery" was agreeing to eat in the house of another school family, taking the chance to get to know another couple and knit the social fabric even tighter and more colourful.

Thank you, new friends, for trusting that wherever you ended for dinner, you'd find something in common - that any gathering of four people would yield something rich. That everybody is worth spending some time getting to know. The commonality of the Canadian north and rural Africa probably wasn't what either of us would have guessed, but as we reluctantly parted 3 hours later we were all glad we'd taken the chance on connection.


  1. Hi Rick,

    I found your blog from an article you wrote for EzineArticles about cell phones. I see you're living in the Cowichan Valley (I'm in White Rock, BC) and I'm now dealing with the problem that nearly every school here has WiFi internet throughout and most kids have cell phones.

    So, we either need to find a school with no WiFi, or, we need to relocate somewhere more affordable (like Vanc. Island), buy a bunch of land and homeschool (yikes!).

    I see from your posts that your son started school a couple years ago, so I was wondering: Does your son's school have WiFi, or do you know if there are any schools in the area that do NOT have wireless internet?

    You can read about my saga with the Surrey School Board over this issue here:


    Anyway, would appreciate any feedback you might have, or names of schools to check out...


  2. Genius idea for a prize!