Ballenas Secondary students Faith Cook, left, and Ramsay Locke flank Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns during a recent trip to Ottawa. (Photo submitted)

Ballenas students make most of trip to Ottawa

Program helped pair explore Canadian governance, history, and culture

A pair of Ballenas Secondary students made the most of their recent spring break.

Ramsay Locke (Grade 9), and Faith Cook (Grade 10) were in Ottawa from March 17-23 for Encounters with Canada – a nationwide program where students can travel to the nation’s capital to explore aspects of Canadian governance, history, and culture. Their theme was ‘democracy and youth’ and answered some questions about their experience below:

What was the highlight of your trip?

Ramsay: It’s hard to pick one – it was a surreal expereinces. We went to Rideau Hall, the Prime Minister’s house, the House of Commons, the Canadian War Museum, and the Canadian Museum of History (in Gatineau). The views of Ottawa from Gatineau were were stunning!

Faith: Watching question period in the House of Commons, and meeting politicians. We met Gord Johns, our MP, who introduced us to MPs Romeo Saganash Georgina Jolibois, and Jagmeet Singh. I enjoyed the historical buildings as well; they are so detailed.

How did you connect with Gord Johns?

Ramsay: Before arriving in Ottawa, we set up a meeting through Gord Johns’ office. When the time arrived, we took a taxi to the HOC, however, we could not get through security. The armed security guards called Gord Johns who came down to rescue us, and wait with us in line to get through security. Gord gave us a private tour of Parliament and took us to behind-the-scenes meeting places.

READ MORE: Gord Johns invites public to discuss solutions for affordable housing

What did you learn about Canadian democracy?

Ramsay: Romeo Saganash taught us about the bill he is trying to pass to adopt the UNDRIP (the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People), and Georgina Jolibois taught us about her bill on National Indigenous Day.

Faith: I realized that government works at a fast pace, and topics change rapidly in question period. One party was particularly disrespectful in question period, as they were constantly interrupting and heckling.

We were also surprised to see all of the MPs on their phones during question period.

What was the funniest moment?

Ramsay: We had a talent show the last day, and I sang ‘Party in the USA’ by Miley Cyrus.

Would you recommend ‘Encounters with Canada’ to other students?

Yes. 100%, but bring your own pillow – their pillows suck! We met so many friends from across the country, and got to experience the capital while learning about Canadian history and politics.

Encounters with Canada is open to students aged 14-17, and costs $750 including flights, food, accommodation, and programming.

For more information on how students can sign-up for Enconters with Canada, you can visit their website at https://www.ewc-rdc.ca/pub/en.

— NEWS Staff, submitted

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