"Encounters with Canada"

Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

By Sandra (Grade 11)

One week touring our nation's capital with up to 138 students aged 15 to 17...

"Encounters with Canada" is an organisation which gives Canadian students the opportunity to see the national capital in action, and a better idea of how our country is run. During that week, participating students stay at the Terry Fox Youth Centre and attend seminars and workshops.

The Terry Fox Youth Centre is a permanent residential conference complex. Each week, the centre becomes the home of up to 138 participants. The Terry Fox Youth Centre is a tribute to Terry Fox and the outstanding inspiration he gave to all Canadians. It hopes to promote unity among the students and to give them an understanding of our country's diverse cultures and ways of life.

The "encounters" students choose between a selection of eight possible sub-themes. The sub-themes include Arts and Culture, Science and Technology, Canadian Experience, Law, Journalism and Communications, Business and Entrepreneurship, Canada and the World, and Sports and Fitness. During the week one attends seminars and workshops and tours museums related to the topic of one's choice. I attended a week on Science and Technology. The highlight of the speakers who came to the Centre to speak to us was a professor from the Carleton University who spoke to us about physics and played with dry ice. Another highlight was a man who was touring around reptiles and telling us about endangered species. He also let us hold the snakes and other reptiles. There is a variety of topics of sessions one can attend so one picks those in which one is most interested.

The registration fee is 500 dollars. This can be paid by the "encounters" student or by sponsors such as local merchants, service clubs, student council, and many other organisations. The transportation costs are paid by the Open House Canada Program of the Ministry of Canadian Heritage. Students who wish to participate must be between the ages of 15 and 17, and the program accepts two students from every area per week.

The week is packed full of seminars and exciting Ottawa tours. The participants visit different museums, visit the entire parliament buildings, and see the city by bus. During the week that I went, I got to tour the National Art Museum, which holds the largest collection of Canadian art. I also toured the National War Museum, which documents the war history of Canada. I gained a better understanding of what the people of our country have gone through to protect the rights and heritage of our nation. There were many choices of museums one could tour. Unfortunately, I could not tour them all. The tour of the capital buildings was particularly fascinating. We got guided tours of the senate and through most of the parliament.. We also got to sit in on Question Period at the House of Commons which was, as ever, entertaining. The week also includes one afternoon of free time in downtown Ottawa.

"Encounters With Canada" is an excellent opportunity to meet students from across Canada and learn about the diverse cultures and communities in Canada. "Encounters With Canada" is an unforgettable experience.

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