Ice road tour reflections: A journey of resilience and connection

As LiveDifferent’s annual ice road tour came to a close, we found ourselves overwhelmed with gratitude, carrying with us countless stories of resilience, warmth, and the power of community. Over the course of six weeks, our dedicated road team ventured across the icy terrain of Northern Manitoba, bringing our Circles mental wellness program to 12 First Nations schools and reaching over 3,500 students.

Unforgettable connections

Setting out on this tour, we carried a message of hope and belonging, hoping to make a difference. What we found, however, was something truly remarkable—the incredible hospitality and friendship extended to us by these communities. The mental wellness programs we deliver are designed to initiate discussions on mental health, equip individuals with resilience tools, and nurture a sense of unity among students. The experience proved to be a profound journey of shared hope and understanding.

A journey like no other

Our team’s journey was nothing short of a testament to endurance, covering an impressive 5,000 km across the ice roads for over 90 hours, with travel speeds peaking at a cautious 20-30km/hr.

Finding billets in these remote areas presented its unique challenges, leading our team to stay in “teacherages”—lodgings for teachers—which offered us a glimpse into the lives of the locals. Dining on local specialties, especially moose meat, was not just about enjoying the meals but also about connecting, sharing stories, and celebrating the spirit of these unique communities.

Engaging with the youth

At the heart of this tour was our interaction with the students—laughing, learning, and sharing stories that transcended cultural boundaries and fostered a network of support and understanding. These interactions were not one-sided; while we aimed to inspire the youth, we found ourselves inspired by their resilience, optimism and warmth.

Gratitude and looking forward

This remarkable journey could not have been realized without the immense support and generosity of our partners, donors and community supporters. Your unwavering belief in our mission to enhance the lives of Indigenous youth has made a tangible, lasting difference. We are profoundly thankful for your support and are excited to continue this vital work together.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 27th, 2024

Haiti update: Navigating through challenges with strength and hope

With the recent escalation of conflict in Port-au-Prince, we want to provide you with an update, specifically relating to our operations and the community we serve in Haiti:

Current situation in Haiti

Haiti faces a critical period marked by political upheaval and social unrest, particularly in Port-au-Prince. The resignation of the unpopular Prime Minister Ariel Henry and the transition to a new government reflect the nation’s long-standing struggles with governance, natural disasters, and a significant humanitarian crisis. The turmoil has been escalating over the past year and has now captured global attention.

Community of Cap Haitien

Despite the challenges in the capital, we want to reassure our community that our operations in Cap Haitien (northern Haiti) remain unaffected and steadfast. Cap Haitien is calm amidst the nation’s broader struggles, allowing us to continue our programs without interruption.

Operations at Ecole L’Union and Freedom Village

Our students are still attending school, and are engaged in learning and community activities. We are committed to ensuring that their education continues uninterrupted, fostering a safe and supportive environment for their growth. Freedom Village also continues to operate as usual.

One of the impacts we are seeing at the moment is the rising cost of food and fuel. This has been a challenge over the past few years, both for us and certainly for the local families who struggle every day for their basic needs.

Safety and monitoring

The safety of our team, students, teachers and community members is our top priority. Our local team closely monitors the situation, keeping us informed with daily updates. We have comprehensive safety measures in place and are prepared to respond proactively to any changes in the local context.

We understand the concerns that have arisen due to the situation in Haiti and appreciate the outpouring of support and inquiries from the LiveDifferent community.

Looking forward

Our hearts go out to all Haitians during this turbulent time and we remain hopeful and committed to making a difference in the lives of those we serve. We believe in the resilience of the Haitian people and the strength of our collective efforts to foster positive change.

We will continue to follow the situation through news outlets and, most importantly, our staff team on the ground.

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: March 15th, 2024