Day 87 - Jeremy (1st person I approached)
March 28, 2014 - Jeremy comes from Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). He was born at Queen Charlotte Hospital, and grew up in the hamlet of Sandspit, which is located on the north east tip of Moresby Island, with a population of less than 400 people.
There is one small school that serves all grades, with elementary going from Kindergarten to Grade 10. Jeremy told me,
“My parents divorced when I was about 7 years old, and my mother moved to Victoria. I went to live with her for about six months when I was 8 or 9, and I didn’t like it. I love Sandspit and I really just wanted to go back. So I went back to live with my Dad in Sandspit.”
Jeremy’s father has been a life-long forestry worker, while both of his paternal grandparents were teachers.
“My Dad dropped out of school in Grade eight,” Jeremy says.
“He started working in forestry at a young age. Fishing has always been a big part of our life, and I spent a lot of time out on a small boat, fishing with my Dad. I caught my first Tyee, that’s a salmon weighing more than 30lbs, when I was 11 years old. It weighed 35lbs. My Dad says he helped me a bit with reeling it in, but that I managed it myself.”
The biggest fish Jeremy has caught (so far) was a salmon weighing 45lbs, which took almost an hour to reel in.
When he was 10 years old, Jeremy did go back to Victoria, to live with his mother and went to school there. A year later, he went back to Sandspit again.
“I started to get into some trouble at school in Victoria. I’ve always liked being around older kids and in Sandspit, theres’s not much to do. So I was spending time with friends who were closer to 18. I started drinking at 11, and smoking a shit load of weed. I got suspended from school a number of times, and finally when I was about 16, I stopped drinking all together. I knew it wasn’t going to get me anywhere, and in a small town, everyone knows everyone else's business. My brother quit drinking around the same time as I did. I probably could drink now in moderation if I wanted, but I don’t want to. I also quit smoking pot as well. I started to work hard, and was able to graduate from Grade 10 an full year ahead of schedule,” Jeremy says modestly, without a trace of snugness.
He was also working hard through the summers as well, telling me about working on boats that would go out fishing for 7 days at a time, and he’d pull 16 hours of working, then sleep for an hour or so and get back into another 16 hours of working - starting when he was only 14 years old.
After graduating from Grade 10, Jeremy completed his schooling through online courses and distance learning.
“I persuaded the school to let me work and do my classes online. I wanted to work for the season at a fishing lodge, and if I didn’t complete school on time, I would miss out on the entire season. I’m not sure how I did it, but I got it done."
Jeremy starting working as a dock hand for a fishing lodge that guests flew into via helicopter, stayed for five days and fished, and then flew home.
“It was a floating lodge. Everyone who was working there, lived at the Lodge. It was an old granary barge that had been converted and they built the lodge on top of it. I started as a dock hand and after a long day, I'd go out fishing everyday for four or five hours. I wanted to show my boss I was serious about fishing and that I could work hard. That’s how I got to be a fishing guide. Hard work,” Jeremy tells me, again with complete modesty.
Jeremy has completed one year of a three year course in Marine Sciences at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), at the Marine Campus in North Vancouver. He will be spending this summer travelling to the Great Lakes, which straddle the Canada/USA border in Ontario. Jeremy tells me,
“I’ll be working on a large shipping & cargo vessel. The Marine Sciences program I’m in is a co-op program, so this is part of the curriculum. Then I have three more years of school. Next year I’ll have ten months co-op time to work. Some of my friends have gone to work on cable-laying vessels in Singapore, so I’m thinking of looking into that for the next co-op. But I’d also like to spend some time in Sandspit, and go to Kitimat with my girlfriend, that’s where she's from.”
They met last year while both working at the fishing lodge.
“We just got back from our first trip together, which was incredible. We went to Nicaragua for a month. I had been trying to talk her into going to El Salvador, but there’s so much unrest there, and her best friend who now lives in Kitimat is from Nicaragua, so we decided to go there. We spent time traveling around, and diving and going to the beach and exploring. The last week we took a side trip to Honduras.”
I commented that when a couple can travel well together it’s a good sign. Jeremy laughed and said
“Fuck yeah! The first night we made it to Texas, and missed our flight to Nicaragua. We were busy eating alligator and got caught up in the excitement. We ended up flying into El Salvador instead and having to spend the first night there, then taking a bus ride for 13 hours to get to Managua, in Nicaragua. All that in the first 24 hours. We travelled really well together!”
Jeremy has an older brother and a younger sister. They are all very close.
“My brother is an amazing guitar player, and he is at Vancouver Community College studying classical guitar. He’s been teaching me how to play. I have a friend in Sandspit that builds guitars, and I had started to build one, so figured I’d learn how to play it. My brother also plays some metal guitar as well, but I’m interested more in the finger-styling, flamenco type beat, six string classical guitar playing.”
When I ask about Jeremy’s sister, the love, admiration and respect he feels for her is palpable. His face lights up when he speaks about her,
“She is so incredibly intelligent and well-adjusted. She lived vicariously through my brother and I with the drugs and alcohol, and so she has seen the madness of it all. My sister is likely going to get a full four year scholarship to the University of Hawaii to study Marine Biology. We’ve pretty much always gotten along. You know, sure we’ve had fights and what not, like all brothers and sisters do. Man, when she went through puberty, even my mother was like ‘holy shit’, but she’s a smart girl and is heading in a great direction.”
In his spare time, and more so now that school is out for spring break, Jeremy likes to read.
"I’ve always enjoyed reading, but more so as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger I liked to read Brian Jacques whose stories were all about animals. And I like Robert Ludlum as well. I took a novel study class in school, and missed out on reading some books because I wasn’t so interested in school then. So I’m reading some of the classics now. I read ‘Of Mice and Men’ and really liked that. Of course, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ was amazing!”
Jeremy then tells me that today he just finished reading ‘Lord of the Flies’ to which I replied, “Poor piggy.”
“Yes, poor little piggy,” says Jeremy, and then he continues,
“You know reading that book kind of reminded me of life in Sandspit a bit. I remember there was one time I took some ExLax into school and slipped it into my teachers coffee. Just three pieces. A couple of hours later, we were outside for gym class and suddenly, the teacher just made a break for it and ran back to the school building. I got suspended for that for five days, for ‘bringing drugs to school.' One friend had told me one piece wouldn’t do anything, so I thought I’d try it. I spent what seemed to be the next two days in the can.” #notastranger