Young Citizens return to Ottawa for 2015
For the second year in a row, twenty-six Canadian students got to experience the trip of a lifetime to our nation’s capital! Participants in the 2nd annual Young Citizens program and Youth Forum enjoyed a full itinerary of sights, tastes and sounds as they toured our nation’s capital from October 15th to 18th, 2015. Their exciting visit featured tours of Parliament, Rideau Hall, the famous War Museum and the Museum of Canadian History. Participants also enjoyed the VIP experience as honoured guests at the Canada’s History History-Makers dinner where they were publicly recognized and received a standing ovation for their significant achievements.
Students arrived in high spirits on Thursday evening, ready to take on the tour! After a quick meal with their chaperones, students, chaperones and our amazing EF Tour leader Vanessa Ledoux all met at the Lord Elgin Hotel to get to know each other better! After a series of fun ice-breaking games, as well as an impromptu birthday celebration for one of our Young Citizens, everyone headed to bed to get ready for some exciting adventures ahead.
The next day began with a delicious breakfast at Dunn’s, an Ottawa landmark, following by a walking tour of Ottawa on the way to our destination – an exciting tour of Canada’s national Parliament! Our knowledgeable tour guides treated us to inside knowledge of the building and of its history, including a tour of its spectacular library.
Following our tour of Parliament, we made our way to the Bytown museum for a delicious pizza lunch and scavenger hunt which took students to important national monuments that they were asked to photograph as a part of the scavenger hunt. These amazing photos will become a part of our album commemorating our trip!
After our activity at the museum, we were driven to Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General of Canada, where we toured the event rooms and learned more about the history and the role of Canada’s Governor General.
Following our tour of Rideau Hall, students returned to the hotel to get ready for our VIP event, the History Makers dinner. The dinner, held in conjunction with the Governor General’s Awards, was an opportunity for us all to dress up and to be treated like VIP’s at a very fancy event! Young Citizens enjoyed a delicious meal, as well as a standing ovation after the video montage of their work was shown to all of the guests. A late night – but worth it!
The next day, we were up early for a great breakfast in the historic Byward Market at Le Moulin de Provence. After our delicious breakfast, our bus drove us to the Museum of Canadian Museum in Gatineau, Quebec, just across the bridge from Ottawa. There, Young Citizens got a chance to present their projects to one another, as well as to participate in an activity about Canadian children’s rights in history and in the present. Following a discussion about rights and wants, students learned about the campaign started by Shannen Koostachin from Attawapiskat, Ontario, who worked to get a new school in her community. Then, working in groups, Young Citizens produced posters showing human rights protected by the UN Convention on Children’s Rights that they thought were most important. The activity was a great way to think about how children’s rights have changed, and how there is still work left to do.
After a delicious lunch in the museum cafeteria where many students tried poutine for the first time, our bus took us to the Byward Market for some souvenir shopping! Even though time was limited, many Young Citizens found their take-home souvenirs and were able to buy themselves something to commemorate the trip. From there, our bus took us to the Canadian War Museum, where Young Citizens were moved by powerful stories of Canada at war- and of the sacrifice of men and women who served, and continue to serve. Many students would have liked to stay at the War Museum longer, as there was so much to see and explore!
Finally, the bus drove us back to our hotel to get ready for a pub-style dinner at Paddy Bowland’s, followed by an exciting haunted walk of Ottawa’s most famous ghostly places! Our haunted walk director shared some truly scary stories, which made the Young Citizens very happy to have roommates with them for the night!
Departure day was a day of mixed emotions- Young Citizens made friendships to last a lifetime, and many felt the trip ended far too quickly. Still, all agreed that this trip was the experience of a lifetime, and enjoyed their time to the fullest. For participants coming from more remote regions and from the far North, the experience was all the richer as it represented their first opportunity to spend time in a major urban center, outside of their territory.
A special thanks to our sponsors, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Federal-Provincial Working Group on Cultural Engagement. Your investment in the program and in these youth has provided them with the opportunity of a lifetime!
A special thank-you also to our Tour Director from EF Tours, Vanessa, who kept us all on time, together, and in great spirits for the trip! To all of the chaperones, many of whom were heritage fair coordinators and teachers, we thank you for your commitment and positive participation in what was a very busy but fun experience.
And finally, to the Young Citizens themselves – thank you for joining us on this adventure, for sharing of yourselves and your ideas, and for participating in such a positive and mature manner! You were wonderful representatives of Canadian youth, of your schools, communities and provinces, and true ambassadors for the program in its second year!
Top Image Legend: FRONT ROW (L-R): Adi G. (MB), Katie K. (NL), Lucia N. (NT), Nadia H. (NB), Sanai M. (SK), Judy L. (BC) SECOND ROW (L-R) : Nancy O. (NU), Ethan W. (NS), Pete C. (PE), Geoff P. (PE), Samuel C. (BC), Robbie H. (ON), Reed C. (MB), Sebastien D. (NB) THIRD ROW (L-R): Kirsten R. (ON), Amélie G. (QC), Isabelle P. (QC), Cailley C. (YT), Mya M. (SK), Rae P. (NT), Karissa H. (AB), Eden F. (AB), Evelyn F. (NS) BACK ROW (L-R): Tyrone P. (NU), Nicholas E. (NL), Carson K. (YT)