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North-South exchange brings two Canadian communities together in Nelson
Sixteen students from Fort McPherson, North West Territories began their long journey home Saturday after a memorable week in the community.
But before they departed, the L.V. Rogers and Chief Julius students, their hosts and community members who helped make the North-South exchange happen, celebrated at a banquet held at the Hume hotel Friday evening.
Students took turns linking arms and taking pictures while reminiscing about the weeklong adventure that bonded teens from two very different parts of Canada.
It was hard to imagine that merely a week ago, the kids stood separated like boys and girls at a junior high dance, communication and the unknown a barrier.
“I feel that now we’re great friends,” said LVR student Sebastian Lutz addressing the Ft. McPherson crew. Added schoolmate Aloe Harris, “Every one of you has a place in my heart.”
Relationships formed over lunches filled with laughter as the students warmed up, asked questions of each other and then, conversation took off.
The fun-filled week was a testament to all the Kootenays have to offer. Snowshoeing at the top of the Salmo-Creston Pass included a lesson about the mountain caribou. The group went downhill skiing at the Salmo hill. They listened and learned from Allison Girvan’s Corazon Choir; toured Touchstones and Nelson Hydro and connected with aboriginal students in Creston for outdoor activities.
They also spent Friday at the curling club, making granola to donate; learning to curl and creating two stain glassed windows – one for each group of students to commemorate the trip.
With Ft. McPherson 4000 km away, it’s cheaper to fly to France, one reason exchanges among students living within Canada don’t happen more often. LVR teacher Tamara Martin is happy to be breaking new ground with uniting young Canadians.
“Just watching the dynamic of the group grow more and more each day was rewarding,” she said.
Chief Julius teacher Sonia Gregory thanked Nelson families for opening their homes to strangers with differing customs. At first introduction over Facebook some of her students proudly posted pictures of their hunting captures. Common for the far north, she worried about the impression this would make on teens not used to such things.
Seeing the success of the trip, she was able to laugh at her concerns and said, “For many of our students, there have been a lot of new experiences. There’s been huge learning here for them.”
In April the fast friends will be reunited as LVR students make the journey to the far north. There they will be immersed in a culture where elders are revered and hunting is a way of life. Temperatures will reach -30 degrees Celsius and the sun will shine at 3 a.m. The land is harsh but hearts are warm and everyone is eager for the journey to continue.