During this school year more than 20 students from Columneetza Secondary School had the privilege of attending Encounters with Canada, an amazing program that brings high school students together for a week of incredible adventures in the capital city of Canada, Ottawa.
It is a life-changing experience for all the students who are fortunate enough to take part in this program.
The objective of Encounters is to bring young Canadians from different backgrounds and regions together in order to give them an opportunity to learn about one another, to discover their country through each other, and to gain a better understanding of our incredibly diverse country. The program begins in September and runs until May and about 120 students attend each week.
Students stay at the Terry Fox Centre in dorms and visit the Parliament Buildings. They tour the many sights in Ottawa as well as doing activities that relate to the theme of the week they attend. The students fly to Ottawa, often on their own, learning to navigate the airports and becoming more independent.
One of the most amazing aspects of Encounters is that typical cliques and groups that occur in a high school are not present and students are accepted by others unconditionally. Everyone is equal!
Brett LaBossiere went to International Affairs and one of his highlights was touring the Canadian War Museum. He travelled alone to Ottawa and made many friends once he arrived in Ottawa.
Sunney Engstrom attended the Arts and Culture week and said, “Encounters forces you to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people.” She enjoyed visiting the museums, meeting new people and touring the beautiful city of Ottawa.
Makena Rankin also attended Arts and Culture and says, “Encounters is important because it teaches independence and helps you meet new friends from all across Canada.”
Alexandra Dickens went to Sport and Fitness week and got to go to an NHL hockey game. She thinks, “Encounters is important because it makes you more proud and knowledgeable about your country!”
Cody Haley-York attended Medicine and Health week and enjoyed meeting new people.
Matt Brenner went to RCMP week and visited the National RCMP Headquarters, saw the musical ride training centre, and learned about different police tactics.
Michelle Thamerus went to Medicine and Health week and enjoyed meeting new people from all across Canada and was able to speak French with her fellow Canadians.
Ryan LaBossiere attended Medicine and Health week and enjoyed talking to people about his future profession. “It’s really fun because it’s a once in a lifetime chance to meet with teens from all across Canada.”
Ryan Jensen went to Arts and Culture week and says, “Encounters was important because it brought together a diverse group of students that learned to live like a family by the end of the week.”
Conlan Sprickerhoff attended the Sports and Fitness week in September. Highlights for him include late night conversations in the dorm and going rock climbing.
He feels that, “Encounters with Canada is important to bring together the country and to show different cultures throughout.”
Ivona Ognjanova went to Sports and Fitness week and enjoyed rock climbing and swimming. “It lets you learn about all the different provinces and cultures in Canada. It’s truly a trip of a lifetime!”
Tracey Beauchamp attended Medicine and Health week during spring break.
She enjoyed doing labs and rock climbing as well as making new friends with students from all areas of Canada.
She thought, “It helps your social skills and gives you a chance to appreciate where you’re from.”
This is an amazing program for our youth and I hope that we can send even more students in the upcoming school year.