Supporting education in Canada’s Northwest Territories


Students in Canada’s Northwest Territories

In Fort Resolution, Northwest Territories, educational challenges are nothing new. Schools in the community often see low attendance rates and a lack of motivation among students.

That is why Cuso International volunteer Parker Willis is helping support students at the community’s Deninu School.

“The attendance rate at the school is something that a lot of the classes seem to struggle with. It’s very varying week-to-week, even day-to-day,” said Parker. “Kids have a good week and then a bad one, the consistency in that aspect is a little challenging.”

In recent years, the high school’s drop-out rate has been high, and the school struggled with graduating students. But the ball is rolling in the right direction, said Parker. Last year, six students graduated. This year, four students are graduating, one of whom is going to university in the fall.

Seeing this is exciting, said Parker. He hopes to see more students graduate, go to post-secondary school, and continue following their academic dreams.

“Education in today’s world can take you to some pretty cool places. It’s taken me all the way up here to have this experience,” said the Toronto-based volunteer. “To get these kids excited about education and where it can take them, it’s the name of the game.”

Parker is well-versed in the pursuit of education. He has an undergraduate degree in International Development from York University and a master’s certificate in International Development from Humber College. In the Fall, he will start Counselling Psychology at Yorkville University.

A typical day for Parker starts with two Northern Distance Learning (NDL) students, who stream into a different high school that offers the math course they are taking. Parker teaches and helps gym classes and after lunch is biology with another NDL student. For last period, he helps the Grade 7, 8, and 9 math and science class. After school, there is open gym for the kids and a workout program in the evening.

This opportunity has given Parker the chance to be a helping hand, giving the kids opportunities that they may not have had otherwise.

sutdents enjoying the Trades Awareness Program in Fort Smith“There’s so much extracurricular activity that the teachers don’t necessarily have time for because they’re bogged down with marking, meetings, and planning,” said Parker. “The volunteers they really do play an important role in these schools and providing the kids with opportunities that they deserve.”

The students, and especially the four NDL students he works with, have made a lasting impact on Parker.

“They’re a dream to hang out with. They’re all super bright and committed to their studies. It’s definitely not hard getting out of bed and coming to work everyday,” he said.

Help more volunteers like Parker support students and teachers in the Northwest Territories. Donate today.