on Josy Doucette, Williams Lake B.C.
The Beauty and the Beast
This kid did absolutely not want to go to Canada.
But what do you do if you are only 11 years old and your parents want to emigrate?
Josy and her family lived in Lachen in the Swiss canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden. Josy had lots of friends there. Canada was just some strange place far, far away.
“It was very shocking to hear that my parents wanted to skip country”, Josy Doucette (30) remembers.
The worst was still to come. Josy’s parents settled with three children in a former hunting cabin in a remote location. Nothing but nature all around. The town of Williams Lake was two hours away. “There was no power, no running water”, Josy says. “The thought of bears, wolves and cougars freaked me out.” There was no toilet in the house, they had to walk to the outhouse day and night. Swarms of mosquitos made life hell.
“I literally had my eyes closed and did not want to see any of it”, Josy says. The young girl grieved for her Swiss friends and her home country. She did not want to live so remote but eventually she got used to it.
“School actually became my favourite thing”, she says. “I did not want to miss out on it once.” But school was not easy to reach. First Josy went to Big Lake School, about an hour away. From Monday to Friday, she lived with an aunt and uncle in Big Lake. For grade 11 and 12, she had to go to Williams Lake. She had to travel 1.5 hours each way, first on a gravel road and then with the school bus. That makes a daily commute of 3 hours.
In the winter, the kids drove to the bus by snowmobile.
And you know what? Today, at 30, Josy lives again in a house in a remote location – what she calls “off-grid”. Her home is the Onward Mission Ranch, a still active ranch with cows on it. It used to be a residential school, where native children were held against the will of their parents and educated by Catholic teachers.
Where Josy lives now, she has no power, only a generator. Her water comes from a natural spring. The neighbours are 2.5 kilometres away.
“I appreciate the peacefulness, the quiet and being part of nature”, she says. “It grows on you.”
Josy has been a youth-care worker for nine years and she works with youth at risk. These are kids were unsuccessful in the regular school setting and are enrolled now in the Skyline Alternate School in Williams Lake.
75 per cent of the students there are First Nations children. A lot of them have disabilities.
When Josy comes home from work, it is time for her second job because she is also a dog trainer. Something that is needed in North America, she says: “Especially in Canada, lots of people don`t know how to train a dog. People have lost their ability to assert themselves and as such treat their dog like a child. When in reality they are sharing their home first and foremost with a predator, carnivore, and a pack animal. If we do not communicate with our dogs as an animal, they develop behaviour issues. And that is where I come it and act as a mediator.”
She started training dogs four years ago and opened her own kennel facility one year ago.
She says that she currently has a registered litter of German shepherds on the ground if anyone would be interested in a “true working” GSD. Which means German Shepherd Dog. (Sorry, Josy, I cannot buy one, I have a DSC, a Domestic Short Hair Cat.)
Right now, Canada is the place for her to be. But she loves going back to Switzerland. She likes the beauty and perfection. “It is always majestic”, she says, “in Switzerland, it is human perfect. In Canada, it is a raw beauty. But Switzerland feels like home, too.”
And sometimes, a thought crosses her mind: What would have happened if she had stayed?
She will never know the answer.
Have a look at Josy’s website:
Here is the Can-Swiss Quiz with Josy:
– What gift do you bring home from Switzerland?
The FOOOOOOOD! I love food!
– What product(s) do you miss most in Canada?
It used to be cheese and chocolate, but many Canadian stores now offer these items.
– Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Swiss men or women?
Their innate confidence, assertiveness, work ethic, and of course their well known punctuality … they have this way of making busy look fun and easy!
– Which are the 3 qualities you cherish most in Canadian men or women?
Their acceptance and tolerance of most everyone and everything.
– What triggered a culture shock for you in Canada?
My first day at school – I was immediately accepted although I did not speak a word of English.