Interview with Tyleigh Buffalo – Voyage Across the Atlantic.
Tyleigh Buffalo is from Samson Cree Nation and was one of 45 Youth to voyage across the Altantic to Le’ Havre France, on a tall ship. They left from the port of Halifax.
Friday, September 08, 2017.
Guide: Can you tell me, was it the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) that sponsored this trip?
Tyleigh: It was a Metis organization in Kingston, Ontario, they were called Three Things Consulting. I think it was a Canadian organization. It was for aboriginal youth from across Canada and 45 youth got selected to go but I had to submit a really intensive application
which involved resumes, reference letters and these really long applications that I had to submit with them. Guide: What part of Canada did you leave from? Tyleigh: I flew from Edmonton to Halifax and from there we boarded a tall ship. I believe we left Halifax harbor on August 1 and that’s when we left Halifax harbor. From there we sailed all the way to La Havre, France
Guide: How long did the trip take? Tyleigh: It took us twenty five days to get to La Havre, France, but we did arrive a week early because of the speed that we picked up on the last week on sea. So in the event that we arrived early we had the opportunity to go to Channel Islands. The first island we got to go to was Falmouth England and we stayed there for two days. Then we set sail again a channel island called Alderney, England. In Alderney there were German forts where the world war took place and I got to explore that. It was a fascinating site to go to. To be able to go into the German bunkers where the world war took place. Guide: How old are you? Tyleigh: I’m seventeen. Guide: You just graduated high school didn’t you? Tyleigh: I graduated from Ermineskin Jr/Sr High School. I was on the honour’s roll. Guide: Did you learn any new skills on the boat?
Tyleigh: On the ship we were basically sail trainees. So we were pretty much operating it on our own
and sometimes it was really tough. The first day a lot of people got blisters, I didn’t though ! Basically
what your doing is like, there’s different positions from navigation and to helmsman to bozman. It was just a really cool experience. In general, while I was on the ship I learned how to set sails on the vessel and it was mostly sea training.
Guide: How did you feel about the whole experience?
Tyleigh: I was feeling a lot. As I was applying and I got the call that, from Pyder, he called me literally a day after I got out of a Sundance. He told me that I was accepted and that I was chosen to go on this trip. I was feeling a lot. In that time period I was really excited and as the day was coming closer to when I supposed to leave I was getting really nervous. Like anxious and I was at the point where I going to back down I wasn’t going to do it, I was so nervous and I didn’t know what to expect. With a little encouragement from my Kokum Dorothy, she wasn’t having it, she was
just like, “No your going. You have to go.”
And I was like, “OK.”
So once I got to the ship, it was a whole new environment for me. This vessel was where I was going to be living for the next month. It was something I had to adjust too. Once I was there,
there was a lot of media, a lot people, it was really overwhelming for me. Because me coming from a place like Maskwacis, and then going to this ship where I know I’m going to be living for a month, it was a new atmosphere for me. As much as I was excited I was really nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect. So many people asked me, “What are you expecting?” I didn’t know what to expect. So the day of Halifax, it was pretty sad because most of the people onboard were from Nova Scotia and Halifax. So they had a lot of their family come to say their
farewells to them. I was lonely because I didn’t have any family out there so I was feeling a lot, I was really emotional. I was mentally preparing myself for my adventure across the Atlantic Ocean so I was feeling a lot. The day that we left I was emotional, I was sad. I knew I wasn’t going to contact my family or friends because I was in the middle of the ocean and you can’t contact anybody.
Guide: How did you get back?
Tyleigh: Once we got to Le Havre we took a bus to Paris and we spent a whole day in Paris. Then we
flew back from there. From what I know our whole trip was sponsored but all I had to provide myself
was spending money.
Guide: Have you ever done something like this in your life?
Tyleigh: Does a ferry count? [laughs] Guide: I guess not!
Tyleigh: The most extravagant thing I’ve done was go on a ferry over a little river and it only took twenty minutes.
Guide: What would you say to other aboriginal female youth, what would you like to say to those girls across Canada after you’ve gone through an experience like this?
Tyleigh: Is that towards the people who were on the ship with me?
Guide: All the girls in your age range, in general. Do you recommend aboriginal female youth to do
things like this with their lives?
Tyleigh: Yes I do. Me being the only person from my community to be able to experience an extravagant think like this, I would recommend it to other people because you do build life skills. I feel like I’ve come back with a lot of benefits. I would recommend it to other people. It’s definitely an experience that people won’t forget. It’s exciting, it’s an adrenalin rush. Although it’s going to be
hard, it’s going to be stressful, you have to have that positive mindset. You have to know that home is always going to be there for you but you have to be able to push yourself through this kind of stuff. Regardless if your feeling sad or lonely, just know that family is always going to be there for you, home is going to be there. If an opportunity like this comes your way, take it ! Just take life by the hand and just go for it !
Guide: Do have any final words, would you like to thank anybody, say hello to anybody before we end
Tyleigh: I would like to thank Louis Lawyer, she’s a community guidance counsellor in Maskwacis. She was the one who actually recommended this trip for me. She called me into her office and
showed me the application and she was really wanting me to go for it. So I want to thank her for that. While I was on this trip, I also feel like my late Mother was there with me. Through my times of struggle I’ve always felt something, some positive presence telling me that it was going to be OK, to keep going. I know my Mom was there with me in spirit. So I want to thank her because she’s an important person in my life. I’ve always strived to do the best for her. She’s also the reason I graduated. And I just want to dedicate that trip to my late mother.
Tyleigh would like to thank Kevin Buffalo for the funding, he had a big role in it too.