I cannot begin to describe how amazing my experience with Habitat for Humanity Yukon has been. I’ll admit while filling out the GCELE form, Yukon was my last choice. I was a little disappointed when I saw the congratulation email saying I had been chosen to join the team going to Yukon as opposed to China or Costa Rica. I remember thinking to myself, “Ugh. Yukon? It’s in Canada, it’s going to be so boring.” Boy was I wrong. The staff members and other students were such a blast to be with, I would not have wanted this trip to be any other way.
Before the trip, there had been several meetings for everyone to get to know each other. My initial thoughts about the group were that we were all pretty shy and that getting comfortable with each other would take a long time. Also, my perspective on Yukon, and the trip in general, was very limited. I thought that the families we would be helping would be of native descent, I thought we would be staying in tents or a run-down lodge and I thought we would be eating at McDonald’s every day. To say the least, I was pretty ignorant.
Many things surprised me once we were in Yukon.
- I didn’t have to sleep in a tent! The Yukon Inn was much more than what I had anticipated. The beds were soft, there was never a lack of hot water in the showers and not one bug or roach in sight! The television actually had good cable too!
- I also didn’t eat McDonald’s for 8 days! I remember google mapping the Yukon Inn and noticing the McDonald’s across the street thinking I’d have to eat Big Mac’s and french fries every day. There were so many different places to eat at that every dinner was at a new restaurant. Also, the Yukon Inn had such a wide variety of breakfast that you could honestly order something new every morning.
- The families that would live in the duplex home we were building were not what I had pictured. I had expected people of native descent (tanned skin, long, dark hair, custom clothing). Meeting Jeff, Tanya and Brendan made me realize that there aren’t just natives who live in Whitehorse and that there are different types of poverty. GCELE – Team Yukon!
- I used more than just a hammer! I was genuinely surprised when we got to use a table saw, a Sawzall, an electric mitre saw, a nail gun, etc. Habitat for Humanity trusted a bunch of college students, who aren’t even studying construction, to build a house… Thankfully we had patient leaders (Jean-Marc, Jerome, Nico, Brendan and Stu) to help guide us the entire time.
- We lifted 600+ lbs of wood! It’s amazing what teamwork can do. I never thought that I’d have to lift roof trusses, or even being able to lift them at all.
- Bannock (specifically Shawana’s bannock) is to die for.
This once in a lifetime experience has given me a broader perspective on life. It has shown me what teamwork can do. It has introduced me to some amazing people I would have never talked to on my own. It has given me a better understanding of charity vs. social justice, and that more of the latter should be done. It has taught me to keep my mind open and not be so judgemental and narrow-minded. Thank you Centennial and Habitat for Humanity for giving me this opportunity!
– Kristina Maniacup
Below is a short video I put together highlighting our trip. And by short I mean 19 minutes… ENJOY!