Living on an island

Every September, a small flock takes off to go to school, only returning on weekends and holidays

Living on an island is a great way to grow up.

However, as you approach adolescence, like a duck shedding its down, you begin to outgrow Cortes and the education it has to offer. Every September, a small flock takes off to go to school, only returning on weekends and holidays.

Fridays are very long for island kids. School ends at 2:50 p.m. but you don’t get to Cortes until 6 p.m. Those three hours are transition time, time to get out of “school” mode, to pull off short skirts and fishnets and don sweat pants and scuffed sneakers. Once back at home you have to adjust to your families’ expectations. There is a whole other side of your life that they aren’t part of.

Even if you live on Quadra and commute daily it can be exhausting.

“When I get home the only thing I have time to do homework. The ferry uses up all my time for other things, which is usually Ok, because the ferry is social, but sometimes I am tried and just want to get home,” says Ocean, a grade 11 student at Carihi.

Many families share a house and take turns being with the kids in the week. It can be difficult to make boundaries and compromise on values.

Laura is the mom of three boys, two of which are high school aged. They share a house in Campbell River with another family. The parents and grandparents take turns being in town with the kids during the week.

“It’s hard because our family is split; we have to maintain our life on Cortes and support the kids at the same time. Its not ideal, but it the best option we have.”

Eily lives with two other girls in the week.

“It is difficult to live with friends and have a good relationship with them,” Eily says.

Eily’s mom, Amber says that it the gradual transition to independence empowers young people and makes them stronger.

“I grew up on Read Island and did the same thing that my kids are doing now. Even though it can be difficult, in the long run it is really good for them. It helps if you are sharing a space with people who have similar values. In that way we are really lucky,” she says.