Vesa Peltonen - Artist

My BOOK Release


'CULTURALLY SUBMERGED, Journey of a White 'Rez' Teacher'     



For anyone out of Thunder Bay purchase through:,[best price] or Amazon. It is a soft cover 'book' (164 pgs. 6 x9"). or an 'e-book




If preferred signed: ~You can buy it from the me the author, Vesa Peltonen, in Thunder Bay by e-mailing your request [see below] 



ABOUT THE BOOK: 'Culturally Submerged' reflects the experiences of author Vesa Peltonen, an instructor learning the ways of another culture, in N.W. Ontario, with adventures, unexpected experiences and challenges, from humorous to some crazy and shocking situations. As an Instructor Peltonen tries to understand the culture and then realizes he too has to adapt in his 'immersion' just as aboriginal people need to do when they make their journey into another place. Much has to do with inner strength, emotional intelligence, being a survivor' not a victim. These mental states and behavior are similar in all cultures. "Travel into another culture is not just about a place, but a new way of seeing things".- author, Henry Miller.


PRICE: $19.99 + $3.00 mailing (CAD). : Available NOW, paid by cheque, paypal, cash.


CONTACT AUTHOR: In Thunder Bay to order, simply contact: Vesa Peltonen at:



E-mail:    or call: 1-807-768-4877



105 Iris Cresc., Thunder Bay, ON P7A 7Z9  Canada



Excerpt:  from ‘CULTURALLY SUBMERGED - Journey of a White Rez Teacher'


by  Vesa Peltonen


I was heading out of a small town N.W. Ontario airport, jammed in this 16 seat plane. Natives on board mostly, a white guy with a suitcase, at the back with sunglasses. Maybe a government official to check the student count at the school. This government officer is usually the most welcome, since he looks at the registration enrollment and after a cut off date, the education authority gets paid per student on that enrollment sheet. The drop-outs are many after, but still the money will be paid according to the list he saw.

I look out the window and we are flying so low, I can see the hair on the back of the moose. Apparently, this low flying avoids the turbulence above. Suddenly the befuddled plane came to a grueling stop. Whoa! Huh! On gravel? Smoke and dust all around, Where the hell is the pavement airstrip? My heart skipped a beat. In the field was a single red jeep. To the left was the airport terminal, looking like an abandoned garage. A policeman was coming towards us, to look at our baggage site on the ground, and curious of the new faces. Some of the passengers, came with many boxes, bags and of course, lots of groceries from some big town with lower prices. They were the first ones checked randomly, looking rather awkward and nervous to me. The police, called NAPS, ‘Native Aboriginal Police’, took a quick look through one bag, and another, asking in Ojibway to an old man what was in his box, I figured. With his wannabe state trooper sunglasses, he left the old man, spying a native lady with a baby. She had plenty of grocery bags & diapers in her arm. The officer immediately tore it open and scattered the white diapers around, likely looking for booze. He found nothing. She seemed distraught and was left to chase diapers, wind blown, by the airplanes propellers,

which was already leaving for the next reserve. I picked up a few, she said nothing. I felt rather sad for her.

Inside the garage size terminal, an 'official' looking native lady came over to me and decided to check my small gym bag, which was bulging a bit, much stuff was randomly stuck in there. When she opened the zipper, I suddenly realized my Tim Horton's donut's were on top, a dozen, minus a few eaten on the plane. The bag burst and many of them fell by her feet. She looked quite embarrassed. She didn't say much, and when she saw my books, realizing my occupation, "Oh, you must be a new teacher", and walked off. I offered her one out of the bag, and said, "Bye," and walked to the room where they check thoroughly with some of the more suspicious bags.


I picked up the few donuts. With very little backage, she felt she had done her bit. She had more peoples' bags to look at. To the dismay of the local natives, I was never checked thoroughly at that moment and never check again. It would be the only occassion, where this white rez teacher was given guest first class service, in the 'donut ritual'. Many reserves are called a 'dry reserves'. No booze allowed. But it get's through. Let's thank the 'Hudson Bay Company' long ago for starting the trend of selling booze, and now the store won't serve it. The airport terminal doesn't have a lounge. Well for that matter no bathroom no vending machine. Life is kept simple or they just feel all that belongs in the white society, where the natives can look forward to a fun time sitting in a luxury of a white culture’s convenience store like airport. ...


~ Vesa Peltonen -author



 Book Review:



BOOK Review:  ‘Tough Teaching Years Revisited’


Book: ‘Culturally Submerged, Journey of a White Rez Teacher’.


Vesa Peltonen is a Thunder Bay artist and designer as well as an art and media instructor. As a younger man he roamed all over the world, and over the years including Europe and north Africa experiencing different cultures, speaking and listening with different languages, learning the ways of a white tourist [immersed ]in foreign cultures.


Back into N.W. Ontario, he began a career as a teacher to First Nations students, after teaching in different education levels as University in his home city. Initially he did this as a distance education teacher, instructing on-line courses with brief excursions into isolated aboriginal isolated reserves. Eventually he’d drive in to teach on site for longer periods. ‘Culturally Submerged, Journey of a White Rez Teacher’ is Peltonen’s accounting of these teaching years off and on up north.


Peltonen vividly portrays all of the general elements and events of what life “up north” is like. The experience of flying into isolated areas on a small plane packed with both people and supplies that would be 4 times as expensive once living on a reserve. The experience of landing on a gravel runway being met with NAP [Native Aboriginal Police] who attempted to find and stem the smuggling of alcohol and drugs. The experience of students struggling to find interest in courses taught in English and subjects that seemed to have little if any relevance to their daily lives. Again and again Peltonen comes back with experiencing boredom, both for youth in isolated communities and for himself as he struggles to understand how to do his job with any effectiveness and without judgment.


But there is judgement and plenty and Peltonen lectures his students, various government and us, his readers about the seemingly endless challenges. He writes with a broad stream of consciousness style, with paragraphs careening off in all directions from where they began. Peltonen closes his memoir with two important philosophical summations. The first is titled Free on a Reserve? Yes, no or maybe? The second is his personal position about the history of Residential Schools. Both of these sections are highly subjective and raise more questions than answers. He is most authentic, I believe, in a passage near the end of the book where he describes his own experience of  isolation on a reserve community to what his life is like once he leaves and comes “back home”.


“Some psychological effects I had experienced from being in this far northern reserve with longer periods away from home were ‘isolation anxiety’, which would ware off and some mild depression also. He had an attempted assault issue with a student with a knife, but knew how to culminate the dangerous issue quick thinking.  The kid wound up in jail for that and spitting on the senior vice principal’s face and property damage. He had been stalked by two of the kids’ friends but that was short lived and it was a minor issue. They were more of a danger to themselves, high on gas sniffing.


Once I got home it was like I was in control again, and could relax better, knowing more of what was to happen. From other places I had some post traumatic effects, with longer periods of depression, and some panic attacks.”


Here Peltonen is hauntingly describing his re-entry to his own comfortable culture. He is raw and vulnerable. He could be talking about the hundreds of First Nations youth that were taken from their homes, forced into residential schools, with periods of isolation from everything they had left that was comfortable in their lives.



-Michael Sabota, Chronicle Journal Newspaper- Book reviewer


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