Is it possible to add some adventure to your teaching career without moving overseas? For decades, educators have travelled to countries all over the world to teach, giving them the opportunity to see the world and experience different cultures while still doing the job they love. Asia, Europe, Africa — the world is a treasure trove of adventure and new experiences for teachers with a passport and a bit of gumption.
While most teachers think of countries in far flung corners of the globe for adventurous roles, you don’t have to look quite that far. In fact, the opportunity to get the same kind of experience without having to cross any international borders exists right here in Canada — you just need to adjust your compass, due north!
Teaching in northern Canada is an option that often flies under the radar for educators looking to broaden their background. In particular, northern BC offers the perfect blend of unique cultural exposure, an authentically wild environment, and rewarding teaching experience.
One such place is Tsay Keh Dene — a small community located in northern BC about 500 kilometres north of Prince George. If you’re an enthusiastic, patient, and open-minded teacher with an interest in learning more about Indigenous culture, this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.
About Tsay Keh Dene
Tsay Keh Dene School—named for one of the Sekani Bands of the Northern Interior of British Columbia—is a certified First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) campus. Here, approximately 50 students grades K-12 study the British Columbia curricula in small classes.
The school shares its name with the community it’s situated in. Located to the north of Williston Lake, Tsay Keh Dene is home to about 250 people and is serviced by the RCMP, a nurses station, and a small store.
Teaching in Northern BC
What are the requirements to teach in Northern BC?
Despite being a bit off the beaten path, teaching in northern BC has the same qualification requirements as the rest of the province. Teachers will need to have their Bachelor of Education, and either have, or be in the application process of obtaining, a BC teaching license. And, of course, all teachers are required to pass a vulnerable sectors criminal reference check as well.
How much can I expect to make?
Teachers at Tsay Keh Dene School can expect to start with a one-year contract making between $60,000 and $90,000 CAD based on experience.
What will my schedule look like?
Teachers work Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Holidays include three weeks at Christmas, two weeks for Spring Break, and two months of summer holidays. The school will pay for teacher’s flights from any point of hire in Canada up to Tsay Keh Dene at the beginning and end of a contacted teaching period, as well as flights to Prince George to start both the Christmas and Spring breaks.
Living in Northern BC
Living and teaching in northern Canada is an experience unlike any other. Northern communities tend to be remote, with smaller populations and fewer amenities than most people are likely used to. While a bit of culture shock is expected, an open-minded and adventurous teacher can expect to settle in quickly.
What kinds of activities are there in Northern BC?
Someone who loves nature and being outdoors will thrive in a community like Tsay Keh Dene. The natural landscape of the region lends itself well to sports and activities like hiking, mountain biking, skiing, swimming, fishing and snowmobiling. Internet and satellite TV are available for those quiet days in, but you’ll have to get comfortable without your cell phone, as there are no cell towers in the area.
What’s the weather like?
Despite its northern latitude and elevation, the region’s climate is relatively mild. On average, the winter temperatures sit around -10 ˚C, and 10 ˚C in the summer (that’s that average though. On warm days in summer, you can expect the highs to hit the low 20s). You can expect snow from October to May, with December and January being the heaviest months. Packing the right wardrobe for the northern climate will be the key to staying comfortable throughout the year.
How much does it cost to live in Northern BC?
As for the cost of living, your teaching salary will take you far in Tsay Keh Dene. $150 per month is enough to cover your rent, internet, and satellite TV, with all other utilities being covered by the school.
What about the food?
Because of the remote location, food is purchased by the school in Prince George and shipped up by truck. In the coming school year, the school will begin serving hot breakfasts and lunches, working in partnership with local hunters to ensure wild meats and traditional meals are made available for students and faculty. This will provide a great opportunity for teachers to develop a deeper appreciation for the local Indigenous customs.
Ultimately, people who are respectful of different cultures and are open to learning the customs, histories and stories of local groups will make the most of their time teaching in northern BC Communities like Tsay Keh Dene have ways of life that may feel distinctly different than what you are accustomed to. But, if you’re the kind of person who looks to embrace new experiences and you’re keen to learn something new, teaching in northern Canada will enrich your life and leave you with memories that will last forever.
Apply to teach in Northern BC
If teaching in northern BC sounds like an opportunity you’d like to learn more about, send us an email at [email protected].
If you’re ready to apply for a teaching position, visit our online application page. Start teaching in three easy steps.