New arrivals packing community spirit

In Grade 12, while tutoring some Grade 7 students, Fred Statham had an epiphany. "I knew then I wanted to teach," he says. "I felt I was making a difference in the lives of these kids and I wanted to make that my work.

WATSON LAKE

In Grade 12, while tutoring some Grade 7 students, Fred Statham had an epiphany.

“I knew then I wanted to teach,” he says. “I felt I was making a difference in the lives of these kids and I wanted to make that my work.”

Statham got a bachelor of education at UBC. He’d grown up on the West Coast, and did most of his teaching in BC.

He met his wife Caron, another native of BC, in Nanaimo in l992.

“It was pretty much love at first sight,” he says.

The couple were foster parents in Powell River and in Nanaimo from 1995 till 2002, during which time Statham went back to UBC to get a diploma in guidance studies.

When their three kids were grown and independent, the couple decided to follow a dream of travel and work.

They found work in London, England, in the south and east districts where Statham worked as a special education teacher while Caron was an assistant social worker. They were there for four years, taking time to travel whenever they could.

The ad in the Vancouver Sun, counselor in the elementary school of Watson Lake, Yukon was instantly appealing: Caron’s family has a long history associated with the North. The Kleins were involved with gold mining in Dawson City and Atlin for many years.

The Johnson Elementary School has wanted a full time counselor for years and it is a job which falls in perfectly with Statham’s mandate of making a difference for the kids he works with. Caron got a job as an educational assistant.

So far, the couple, along with their two dogs, have found their move to this small northern community a positive experience.

“First off, the housing: we wanted a fenced yard for the dogs and that is what we got. It was a nice beginning, to move into a place that suited our needs,” says Statham.

“The people have been so welcoming,” Caron says. “I enjoy the small-town atmosphere, though I am still getting used to things, like when I go to the grocery store I end up spending more time chatting with people than I do buying groceries.

“I am also very impressed with the local library. It is a wonderful facility, and unexpected in a small town.”

Given Caron’s vivaciousness, it is not surprising she is finding the townspeople welcoming; she seems to be approaching all aspects of her new life in the North with open enthusiasm and interest.

Statham, too, seems prepared to enjoy his new job and his new home. He is a longtime hockey player and looks forward to getting involved in the game here.

He is also a runner with two marathons under his belt, one in Edinburgh, Scotland, and another in Victoria, BC.

Caron looks forward to joining the yoga class, and both of them are interested in trying out the game of curling.

“We both believe in developing community,” says Statham. “A sense of belonging is important to kids and for them to feel that their community cares for them is as good as it gets.”

Tor Forsberg is a freelance writer

who lives in Watson Lake.

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