Program offers students a chance to encounter Canada

By Kristen Brown
Roncalli Central High School
Port Saunders, Newfoundland

Encounters With Canada is a program for students from across Canada that offers them the opportunity to spend one week in the nation's capital, Ottawa.

Encounters with Canada started in 1982, giving young people (from ages 15 to 17) a chance to meet other students from different backgrounds and regions, discover their country and learn more about Canada's major institutions. Each year, more than 3,000 students take part in the program.


The week is focused towards the learning and understanding of one particular topic of the students choice. The themes for each week include: Business and Entrepreneurship, Sports and Fitness, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Forum, Science and Technology, Canadian Experience Law, Arts and Culture, Canada and the World and Journalism and Communications.

For the staff and students at Roncalli, Encounters With Canada is looked upon as a prestigious program that offers fun and educational information to the youth of today. It has in the past, directed youth in their future and answered many concerning questions.

"From my past experience in having worked with students who have participated in this program, I find they return a much more knowledgeable, mature, and competent individual, says Ron Chambers, the school principal.

However, not all students who apply to the program are chosen.

"This is because the program has a limited amount of space. Each school that applies are only given two positions. If participants from other schools back out, then the remaining students are given fair opportunity," says Connie Powell, a teacher sponsor at Roncalli.

"The applications are sent away and picked at random. School averages and marks are not an issue in the selection process."

Karla Patey is one of the many students that applied for Encounters With Canada and did not get picked.

"Although I was not picked to go to Ottawa, I wish I would have been. I have heard that the experience was unforgettable. I would have liked to meet other people and share in their ideas," says Patey.

Lori O'Keefe is a previous participant in the Encounters With Canada program.

"It was an awesome experience! I'll never be able to do something like this again so I am glad I had the opportunity. The friendships and insightful information I gained will never be forgotten."

Overall, Encounters with Canada is an excellent program which leads Canada's youth in a positive direction.