I recently went to Ottawa for a week on a program called Encounters Canada. The idea of this program is to educate young people about Canada and the cultures across the country. After the base theme, which is Canada, the weeks are further divided into sub-themes. I attended the Arts and Culture category, and developed a better understanding for Canadian history, politics, and art.
Throughout the week, we were kept busy with activities in and around Ottawa. The first day in Ottawa we visited the Parliament buildings. Here we got to sit in the Senate and had a discussion with a Senator before lunch. During lunch, Ottawa?s MP talked to us about Canada, after which we witnessed politics in action at question period in Parliament and had a tour of the Parliament buildings. On Tuesday we toured Ottawa in buses, seeing the Ottawa River, Rideau Canal, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Notre Dame French Catholic Cathedral, Rideau Hall, Royal Bank of Canada, and the Foreign Embassy Buildings. Wednesday was spent in workshops with artists, performers, historians, and human rights activists. At the end of the day we also visited the Royal Canadian Military Cemetery. On Thursday we visited the National Art Museum, and wrote letters to government with thanks for sponsoring the program. That night we also had the choice of attending a dance recital, hockey game, or one of two plays. Friday was basically a free day where we were dropped off downtown. My friends and I decided that instead of shopping, we would rent skates and skate up the Rideau Canal. We skated 6.4 km. and ate beaver tails, maple taffy, and drank hot chocolate on the way. That night were the closing ceremonies, talent show and dance. Groups of 20 performed skits summarizing the week, for the talent show. I also did a juggling, magic, and joke telling performance in the talent show, after which was the dance until 4:00 the next morning. Nobody slept that night, and in the morning while saying goodbye almost everyone cried. Luckily for us, MSN has been invented making communication much easier.
I did not only learn about Canada though; I also had one of the most fantastic weeks of my life. The people I met over the week were very inspiring, and I feel privileged to have met them. By the end of the week, all 80 of us knew each other and the group felt like a big happy family. There is no doubt in my mind that some day I will see one of my friends on TV and say, ?I met that person at Encounters with Canada.? The end of the week did not bring with it the end of the new friendships though. Instead, it brought the beginning of many great new friendships, and we are already planning a reunion in Nova Scotia.
I have written a letter to the BC Minister of Education, in appreciation of the sponsorship that BC provides to Encounters with Canada. I would also like to thank our school principal, Mrs Treit, for endorsing my application, and the staff at TRSS for helping me stay caught up in my classes. Last year Natalie Cameron was the first TRSS student to attend Encounters with Canada for many years, and I hope that in years to come many more Tumbler Ridge students may be able to enjoy this amazing program as well.