Sunday, September 12, 2010

Our Amazing Summer! Part 5

Alright we're now on the home stretch!
The final part of this summer brings us to Sweden in August, where I am part of a program called the World's Children's Prize for the Right's of the Child. I am part of a jury with around fifteen other children from all over the world who have either suffered from children's rights infractions or are working for children's rights. Every year, we decide out of three candidates who will receive an award for their work for children's rights. It's always so hard to decide! You are part of the jury until you turn eighteen, when you are considered an adult. The other jury members feel like brothers and sisters to m now. In this blog post I will introduce you to some of these beautiful children. I will introduce you to Gaba and Mofat.
Gabatshwane, or Gaba as I call her is from South Africa and became an AIDS orphan when she was five years old. For years she and her brother were shunned by her village after her parents passed away. One day she and her brother, Vusi discovered that Gaba had a beautiful voice. Gaba nows sings for awareness and funds in order to help HIV and AIDS orphans in South Africa. I call her my African sister! The first year I was on the jury, Gaba was my room mate. Th very first night, before I went to sleep, I said "Gaba, I hope I don't get homesick." Gaba asked me "What is homesick?" I told her that homesick is when you miss your mom and dad so much, you feel like your heart might break. Gaba said "Then I am homesick all the time." Gaba now calls my Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad and whenever my mom talks about how many kids she has, she always includes her two African children. It is always so hard to say good bye when our time in Sweden ends. Next year is Gaba's last year on the jury and I have no idea how I'm going to say good bye then. Mofat is also an AIDS orphan. He lives in Kenya and is HIV positive himself. He has such a beautiful and strong spirit. He courageously advocates and works for children living their lives HIV positive and orphaned. I love him, he speaks perfect English and he made me laugh alot. He offered to teach my mom how to break dance. It could have gotten dangerous, so I talked him out of it. To meet more of the children go to I got to spend the afternoon with Nelson Mandela's wife, Ms. Machelle. She is incredibly inspiring! There is such a beautiful light in her eyes. To get to spend an afternoon with her was the most amazing gift. She has invited me to stay with her and Mr. Mandela when I come to visit Gaba in South Africa. Mr. Mandela's wife works tirelessly for children's rights especially the rights of young girls. Later I will write you about my great friend Hamoodi from Palestine, but for now I must be off to the barn. Felix awaits!

An Amazing Summer! Part 4

We cannot forget about the times in between our voyages here and there!
The day after we came back from New York, Rella and I were in our first horse show! Copper and Felix are our two horses (Copper is Rella's and Felix is mine) and I think we made great teams during our first show. Felix put in his all and on the first day we brought home five first place ribbons and one second! Then on the second day Felix was tuckered out, but we still were able to bring home four more ribbons. Between Rella and I we received 16 ribbons! My little sister gave Copper a new show name, Every Penny Counts! It's perfect for Copper! Rella brought home six ribbons and Copper acquired a new swagger when he trots after showing the judge what he's got. We were so proud of our beautiful horses! We feel a little boastful about it.

An Amazing Summer! Part 3

Hi Everyone! Time for Part 3!
Our next adventure, after Churchill, took place in The Big Apple! Yes indeed, New York City was next in the long line of experiences of the summer. The reason behind traveling to the The City that Never Sleeps, was to meet a literary agent. I had been looking for one for a while to help with Isobel's story and also future stories, including possible Ruby stories (but no spoilers will be given out here!). Mr. Nicholson and I had been in contact for a while, but I didn't get a chance to meet him face to face until New York. We met at his office. All of the walls were covered in bookshelves! We went downstairs from his office to have tea and talk about book ideas and how we could work together. He is such a wonderful character! Before I left his office he gave me a big hug. I have this way of telling what a person is like, the way I described it when I was little is that I either have a good or bad belly feeling about somebody. I definitely had a marvelous belly feeling about Mr. Nicholson. I hired him this summer and I can't wait to start working with him! Also while in New York I got to finally see the statue of Balto, a heroic and amazing sled dog who saved the town of Nome Alaska from a devastating diphtheria outbreak in the winter of 1925. He did so by relaying antitoxin 600 miles from Nenanna to Nome during one of the most severe blizzards in Alaska's history. I love his story. If you look at pictures of what he actually looked like, you'll find that he wasn't a big dog and definitely did not fit the bill of one of those iconic Siberian Huskies. He really was a mutt. I had dreamed of seeing him for so long and one of the best things is that the kids in Central Park love him so much! There are constantly children climbing on him, hugging him, or talking to him. It's a good thing to see.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

An Amazing Summer! Part 2

Hey I'm back with more news of summer 2010!
I'm sorry to break everything up like this, but so much has happened over the last two months it would have been a novel if I hadn't!
Now where did I leave off? After receiving TuTu from Darryl we left on the train to Churchill! I decided to go this past summer because I was commissioned to write a children's book about Isobel the Blind Sled Dog. To fully explain how this came about I have to go back two whole years!
 I love the arctic and dogsledding and for  Christmas two years ago, my family gave me a trip up to Churchill to learn how to mush and to stay with a real musher! I was so excited I cried! We went up to Churchill in March of that year and have gone back three times since! We always stay with a beautiful family who runs a bed and breakfast called Bluesky Bed & Sled. It's the coziest place on earth! Gerald and Jenafor Azure (the couple who run the Bed & Sled) also have a dog yard where you can learn how to mush. Their dogs are so well cared for and happy! And, boy do they love to run! They all have such great personalities and are so special! One of these special dogs is named Isobel, who became blind in 2005. To get the whole story you'll have to wait for the book, but she was the reason we decided to take the train to Churchill. I adored taking the train! To get from Winnipeg to Churchill it takes two days of constant traveling by train. One night you fall asleep with wheat and canola fields and then you wake up to tundra. I thought that by traveling this way it would bring me inspiration for Isobel's story. Once we got to Churchill, I was able to fully soak in Isobel's beautiful home and interview some of the humans that were in her life. Isobel had recently retired and moved out to Alberta, but I got the chance to find out all about her life and the personalities of her team mates. It was such a fantastic trip. On the very last day, while we were hooking up dogs to a dog cart, I cut my hand on a dog's chain. I ended up having to get eight stitches in my right hand. The one thing that I was hoping for was that we would miss the train. Even if I did have stitches, I would have loved to spend at least one more night with Gerald and Jen. We ended up catching the train because the conductor held it for us. They also let us stay in a sleeper instead of berths because they heard I was hurt. It was so kind of them! Even though we were sad to leave, we had a nice ride home, enjoying the company of some of the other train riders. That's one of the best parts of train travel. You meet the neatest people! On our way up to Churchill, we met a botanist and her grandson, who ended up staying at Bluesky for two nights while we were there, a couple who had only been retired for a week but were already on a trip all across North America by train, and of course a wonderful man from the train's staff who always stopped to chat and helped me with my hand on the way home. They are also some of the remarkable and special people I was so lucky to meet this summer. I am so honoured to have been asked to write Isobel's extraordinary story, and I can't wait to bring all of these people's smiles, hearts and love into it's pages. Isobel's real story is about every being's value because they are. Every being deserves to be valued simply because they are on this earth. Most people would have cast Isobel away because she was blind but Gerald and Jenafor saw past her disability to her beautiful spirit. I wish we could all see that in each other, especially in our homeless people.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Amazing Summer! Part 1

I'm so sorry that I haven't blogged for a while, but WOW what a fantastic summer! Let's start at the beginning.
Now in order to start at the very beginning, I'll have to go all the way back to March when my family and I travelled to Churchill to stay with a wonderful Metis family for two weeks. While we were there we met a musher from Arviat, Nunavut. He and Rella, my younger sister, became wonderful friends and one night, when his family and ours were having dinner together, he promised her one of his lead dogs puppies once they were born. His lead dog, Diesel was incredibly special and close to Darryl (the musher we had met) and it was an honour to be promised one of his children. We were so excited! But before we left Churchill, we found out that Diesel, Darryl's best worker and friend, had passed away. Our friend was heartbroken and so were we. After we heard the news, my mom had to explain to Rella that we probably wouldn't receive a puppy from Darryl because he would have to make his team strong again after the death of his strongest dog. Rella and I understood and headed home with heavy hearts for our new friend. About a month after Diesel's death, we got a phone call from Darryl and his wife Kukik. They told us that our puppy was ready to come to Winnipeg! Kukik told us that, before Diesel had died, he fathered a litter of puppies, but only one pup had survived out of that litter. We thought that then, since it was Diesel's last puppy, Darryl would need to keep her because of his amazing bloodlines and because of how important her father had been to him. But Darryl proved that he was a man of honour and Silatu (meaning 'brave one' in Inuktitut) travelled down south from Arviat and arrived home in July!
In this blog I wanted to write about all of the courageous, inspiring, and special people I met over the summer. My friend Darryl from Arviat is one of those people. After losing one of his most loyal comapnions, he still gave from his heart. He is so special! Silatu or TuTu as we call her, is growing everyday. She is now about four months and when standing can put her paws on my shoulders. She is full of energy and is constantly either tackling our smaller dog, Bella or galloping across the yard. We love her to pieces! And this was only the beginning to our summer of memories! Please stay tuned for more of our summer's adventures and misadventures!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Erickson School

 I was so privileged to be able to visit Erickson Elementary School a couple of weeks ago. The minute I got through the door, I could feel the hope and love that came out of every classroom. I also got to meet Jennifer Carlson, the amazing and beautiful teacher who first connected The Ladybug Foundation and her fantastic school. I was so lucky that I got to meet all of the students! Their enthusiasm and love made my heart so joyful! While I was there I also got to hear about the projects that their classes had put together to raise awareness and donations for the homeless and hungry. Banners and posters lined the walls of their hallways and cans of non-perishable food piled high for the shelters in the Erickson area were right in front of the school entrance. One of their most special projects were ladybug pins. The students made salt dough balls and painted them just like ladybugs and then would give them to those who had donated to their cause. They even held a Ladybug Fest, a huge school wide event that invited families and friends of the students to participate in games and treats. The entire thing was ladybug themed! After all of their efforts Erickson Elemtary raised $1500 for the Ladybug Foundation! Their generous and special donation will be able to help so many people living with poverty and hunger. Erickson Elementary School worked so hard for those who need us the very most. Every single student did their part and more to work for what they were passionate about. I was so lucky to get to go and meet all of the staff and students at Erickson Elementary and their beautiful spirits and hearts make me so hopeful! 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hannah's First Blog

Hi Everyone!

This is my first attempt at blogging, so bear with me. First of all, to recap on the last few months. So, here it goes!

Let's start with National Red Scarf Day, January 31st! This year, I was lucky enough to get to celebrate National Red Scarf Day with my great friend Rick. Rick (as some of you might know) is like part of my family! He taught me a few words in Ojibwe and one of them means grandfather. Rick is like my 'moshum' (grandpa in Ojibwe) and I love him alot! Rick also now works at the Ladybug Foundation on the Advisory Board. Besides being incredibly intelligent and kind, he also knows what life is like when you're homeless and he understands what helps the most. His job includes helping to decide which organizations help the homeless the most and which are the best to support. You can also learn more about Rick on the Ladybug Foundation website. Sorry, I'm trailing off. Anyway, for this years National Red Scarf Day we got to celebrate it at my favourite bookstore, McNally Robinson. Tory McNally and her store have been such wonderful friends, from editing Ruby's Hope, to selling Ruby's Hope. In case some of you don't know, Ruby's Hope is a book I wrote. It's about how I used to think if I gave stuff away, I'd have less, but then I learned that when you give from your heart you get so much more. The event went swimmingly and I hope it becomes a tradition for every National Red Scarf Day.

Now, on to February. It has been such a busy part of the year! First, I went to Victoria to speak to a group from the University of Victoria. They were the neatest group of people! While we were there, my dad and I got the chance to have tea at the Empress Hotel. I love tea and actually for my birthday this year I received a tea box from my family, filled with all sorts of teas to try and equipped with a tea drinkers guide. In Victoria my Dad and I met many homeless people asking for help on the streets. That made me really sad, but we stopped at every one and had a chat and gave a little of this and that. Also (about a week after I came back from Victoria) my Dad and I travelled to Saskatoon to speak at the Sunwest Triwest Teacher's Convention. There were about 800 teachers there. One person that attended the conference sent me the most amazing email. He talked to me about how he never used to really stop and talk to homeless people, but on his way home from the convention, he saw a homeless fellow asking for help. He stopped and didn't just talk to this fellow, he took him for lunch. He told me in his email how that lunch changed forever the way he sees homeless people. He told me that when they parted ways after lunch he cried a little, mostly because he felt his heart open. That email made my heart hopeful. I believe in my heart together we can and will make our world a better place.

At the end of February, my whole family (including my family members from out of Winnipeg) travelled to Vancouver to celebrate my Papa's 80th Surprise Birthday Party. Also while I was there I spoke at my cousin, Evan's school called Southridge School. It was extremely fun! The kids were amazing and so were the teachers! The different members of my family came in dribs and drabs, trying to see how long it took my Pa to figure out why we were there. Once we got there he figured it out and smiled from ear to ear. I had a wonderful time with my huge wild family!

This past Monday, I participated in part two of an art workshop at David Livingstone School. David Livingstone is one of my very favourite schools and I spoke there last year. An incredible artist named Jackie Traverse held an art workshop there, where we learned about the Seven Sacred Teachings of the Ojibwe culture and created mixed media art about the animals that the teachings represented. Rick came with me too and we got to work with the students on our pieces. David Livingstone is one of my very favourite schools because of the feeling that you get when you walk through their door. I love the students and the teachers! It is just a wonderfully hopeful place.

Now what else has been happening this year? Well, the second term of school is almost over and spring break is approaching. I don't know where the year has gone as far as school goes! Report cards are coming out soon, and I'm not sure whether or not to be nervous or excited about it. My goal this term is to get 90% or over in all subjects. Last term everything was either 90% or over except for one subject and I am working very hard to achieve my goal. We acquired a sled dog this past January named Ada and because of the cold there has been great mushing weather. The bad part about the weather is that it only makes it harder for those living a homeless life. One more thing before I get to my homework, yesterday I competed in the musical theatre girl's class in the music festival. I sang the song 'Different' from the musical 'Honk!' and got to dress up as the ugly duckling! It was so fun and I won first place in my class. I am very excited about it.

Well, I hope my first attempt at blogging has gone well. I'll be back with more news soon!

Hugs and Ladybugs!
Love Hannah