Nigeria to Windsor to northern Ontario; teacher to work with First Nations students

Article and Photo from the Windsor Star

By: Sharon Hill, Windsor Star
Published on: July 19, 2016

He taught in out-of-the-way spots in Nigeria and Ghana before coming to Windsor to earn his bachelor of education and is now looking forward to his first full-time teaching gig at Sandy Lake First Nation, a fly-in community in northern Ontario that is 600 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay. 

“When I was teaching in Africa, I was teaching in remote communities both in Nigeria and Ghana and I had a very, very powerful impact on the kids,” Fadare said Tuesday from Thunder Bay where he is training with Teach For Canada to go to First Nations communities.

Fadare is one 32 teachers from across the country who are at Lakehead University for a three-week training program before they head to one of 13 communities in northern Ontario in September. During the next three weeks they will learn more about First Nations history and culture, outdoor education and the effect of residential schools.

Teach For Canada executive director Kyle Hill said the non-profit organization works with First Nations communities to recruit outstanding teachers, prepare them and help them during their minimum two-year commitment. There were 399 applications for 32 positions this year.

“This has blown the communities away because they are accustomed to getting three, five, maybe 10 applications in many cases,” Hill said.

The program is important because it is so difficult to find and keep teachers in remote communities and because it attempts to weave First Nations culture into every lesson. Hill said they do the opposite of what the residential schools did in the past, when indigenous people were forced into residential schools and had their history, language and culture forcibly removed. That legacy lives on in the trauma it had on generations, Hill said. 

Teach For Canada tends to draw three types of teachers: outdoor enthusiasts, lifelong learners and social justice educators who “want to begin to right the wrongs of history one student at a time,” Hill said. The pay depends on the community but averages around $36,000 to $44,000 for new teachers. Depending on the location and incentives, some teachers can make closer to $50,000 a year, he said. 

Fadare, 31, grew up in Nigeria and graduated from the University of Windsor in 2014. He has been in western Canada and figures he’s adjusted to cold winters. He’ll have to wait until winter to get a taste of home — such as cassavas — because ice roads are the only affordable way to transport in goods to Sandy Lake which is accessible only by plane. 

He’ll be trying new foods and he’s excited to learn a new language and culture and have an impact on students’ lives. 

“It gives the opportunity for me to do what I like doing best which is teaching,” Fadare said. “I can’t wait to start.”