Dr. Alan MacDonald
When I attended Encounters with Canada in 1987, I was not sure what to expect. Coming from a small fishing village in Nova Scotia, the adventure began on the overnight train ride to Ottawa, where I got to meet some of my fellow attendees from the Maritimes. Already I could feel my horizons expanding as I learned about young people whose lives were similar in some ways to my own, and vastly different in others.
That experience was magnified a hundredfold when I arrived at the Terry Fox Centre and met students from all over the country. They had different religions, different cultures, different languages, different backgrounds...we were all Canadian, yet I felt that I was truly learning what Canada was for the first time in my life. And my life was richer as a result of the experience.
I am so pleased that several generations of students have had their own adventures with Encounters with Canada. It strengthens us to learn more about our identity as Canadians. It informs the path that we take in our lives, fostering tolerance, understanding, and possibility. And, for one week at least, it takes this huge and diverse country of ours and puts it under one roof, telling us that despite living thousands of kilometres from one another, we are part of the same home.
Sports & Fitness 2006
"The week I spent at EWC has had a lasting impact. Meeting students from all across this beautiful country and discussing our future plans inspired me to get involved in my community. Encouragement from program advisers motivated me to pursue ambitious personal and academic goals throughout my life. As a university graduate, I can look back and say with confidence that EWC got me thinking about my future and how I can contribute to society. I would recommend this wonderful program to every single student in Canada!"
Medicine & Health 2010
"I think Encounters is an experience every student should have. When parents ask me questions about Encounters I tell them to get their kids interested in going and to have their child go alone. You meet more people when you don't know anyone. It forces you to talk to people and to make some great friends. And who knows you just might find your true love in Ottawa."
Michelle (Tompkins) Gallacher
Science & Technology 1985
"I loved my week in Ottawa at the Terry Fox Centre. I am so glad to hear the program is still up and running for kids today. I will be encouraging my daughter to attend in about another 5 years. Thank you."
President BC volunteers & Monitor since 1993
"It’s the enthusiasm of the youth I work with and the ever-evolving, ever-improving program that keeps me coming back year after year! I have many lasting memories: The inspiration I gather from the participants as they respectfully engage in thoughtful discussion about important issues - these are our future leaders! The bringing together of participants whose daily lives in their home communities might be attending a school of 50 students from grades K-12, or a school of 2000+ students from grades 10-12; participants from very homogeneous communities to participants from very diverse and multicultural communities; unilingual Anglophones, unilingual Francophones—along with many bilingual participants. The cohesion that builds so quickly among participants during a week-long experience. And the amazing, awe-inspiring talent exhibited by so many participants over the years - the singers, the dancers, the musicians, the poets, the gymnasts, etc. The program just keeps getting better and better. We’re now starting to see children of former participants attend. I look forward to many more years of involvement."
Science & Technology 1989
EWC marked a turning point in my life where I came out of a shell, became more confident, and started down the path to being the person I am now. I went there knowing no other students, and left a week later with the addresses of dozens of new friends (no emails or texts back then!) as well as my first serious girlfriend. My week at EWC changed me as a person, made me want to become more involved in my school and community, and ultimately led me down a career path dedicated to helping others. I could never recommend a week at EWC for any student enough!
Law 1997 & Monitor since 2010
"I attended Law week (February 1997) as a participant. Recently, I was fortunate enough to return for Medicine and Health week, but this time as a teacher-monitor. The perspectives differ tremendously. As a participant, I recall meeting 120 youth from across Canada, the need to make a few good friends, the long line-ups, and the endless new experiences. As a teacher-monitor, I wish for simple modules, nutritious meals, lights out, and helpful participants. However, the best part about EWC is not all these things. It is the celebration of being Canadian, learning about others, respecting cultures and celebrating diversity. In my two weeks here (spread over 15 years), I continue to respect that the founders and administrators continue to fight for this important cornerstone program for youth. I continue to see improvements in programming and activities. I observed friendships and networks being formed and maintained. We are very fortunate to have all this in a country called Canada. These are our future leaders leading today. Thank you, EWC participants, staff, sponsors, governments and volunteers, for keeping this a reality in our nation’s capital."
Shawna (Yakubowski) Nicklason
Canadian Studies 1985
"I attended Feb 3-9, 1985, had a great time, met new friends, enjoyed Ottawa and am grateful for the opportunity. I still live in Alberta and have a wonderful life. I have three sons who have also attended Encounters with Canada, making it very much a family affair. It is awesome to compare the activities, the residence where we all stayed, the fun times that we all had and the memories that will last a lifetime. Thank you to everyone involved with the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre / Encounters with Canada!"
Nancy (Turner) Sweeney
Science & Technology 2001
"When someone mentions the Encounters with Canada program, it's like they open a flood gate - I just can't stop talking about all of the wonderful experiences that I had during my week there. I met so many wonderful people and partook in so many exciting activities, each helping to create memories that I still treasure! Even though it's been almost ten years since I attended, I still keep in touch with many of the friends that I made in Ottawa, and I was even lucky enough to attend university with a couple of fellow participants. Who knew that a mere seven days could have such an impact on the rest of your life? It was the last thing that I expected when I attended, but I know that my life would never be the same without it! And if you are a teen who ever gets the chance to go... go!"
Heather Mitchell & Michael Correa
"My husband and I met as participants in 1996. We have many fond memories of our week. Thank you for the experience that allowed us to meet. In 2009, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and the birth of our daughter. We are especially grateful, because without your program, she wouldn't exist. We can't thank you enough."
Journalism & Communications 2004
"I attended EWC in the fall of 2004 for the Journalism and Communications Program and absolutely loved my experience there. EWC is a great way to meet and stay in touch with students all across Canada. When I moved from Alberta to New Brunswick for my undergrad degree, I found out that I already knew a few people in my program who had been in my EWC group! My first book, Before We Go, was just released in May 2012, and I am starting at PhD in English at the University of Alberta in the fall. Since the program highlights specific categories of interest, I can certainly say that Journalism and Communication week has had a huge impact on my life and where I am now!"
Arts & Culture 2011
"Encounters with Canada offered me one of the most memorable weeks of my life. The guest speakers were both entertaining and informative and I was able to choose between a variety of workshops and other activities. I was never bored. Even during the time that we were given just to mingle and talk, I found plenty of people from all over Canada had interesting stories and intriguing backgrounds to learn about. Another great thing about Encounters is that you go on a themed week which means you already have something in common with everyone else there! It’s an experience no one should miss!"
Monitor since 1985
“I've recently returned from Ottawa where I volunteered as a teacher-monitor for the Encounters with Canada Program. It is one of the best educational programs I have ever seen! Please encourage principals to find a sponsor teacher who will promote Encounters to our students. The sad thing is, most students and parents don't know about the program.”
Cameron Hazell & Carly Huvenaars
Science & Technology 2004
“I would just like to thank you for your wonderful program and for being the reason my brother found his one and only and super amazing wife, Carly. I’ve never seen him happier than when he’s with Carly. I really wanted to share Cam and Carly’s love story with you because it did, after all, begin with your program. True love has a way of bringing people together, whether they have to travel to meet or be high school sweethearts, or both! Thank you Encounters with Canada!” – Kira Hazell, sister of Cameron Hazell, and EWC alumna, Medicine & Health 2010.
EWC Staff Member since 2004
"I have seen young people of 14 to 17 years of age coming here with a certain shyness and a sense of wonder. For some, it is their first trip away from home by themselves. The program here only lasts one week but during their stay, they create bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime. They say all the time what an amazing experience it was for them. They leave with tears in their eyes - boys included. This is one of the many things that makes me proud to be part of this program and go to work with joy in my heart each day."
Science & Technology 1992
“I attended EWC in the fall of 1992 and thought the program was excellent. My favorite trips were to the Ontario Nuclear Power Plant and the National Museum of Science and Technology. It was also nice to be staying close to the Canadian Police College and the RCMP Musical Ride stables. It always brings back memories now attending courses at the Canadian Police College, and walking by or visiting the EWC Centre. I made a lot of friends from all across Canada and highly recommend the program to everyone.”
EWC Staff Member since 1998
"What continues to amaze me after all the years I have worked at Encounters with Canada is how quickly the participants connect with each other and what a wonderful experience this program is for them. I am sure the memory of the week they spend here will stay with them for a long time to come."
Canadian Experience 1990
“My week at Encounters with Canada/Rencontres du Canada was one of the highlights of my youth. It was the first time that as a young, bilingual Saskatonian I had the opportunity to interact with people of the same age from across Canada. Not only was it a chance to meet and make friends with people that spoke a variety of languages, I was able to learn about how our country's cultures varied depending on where we happened to live. When I reminisce about that week in April 1990, highlights that come to mind include visiting the House of Commons, meeting WWII veterans, taking part in a nation-wide call-in television program and, of course, the talent show and party on the last night before we all (tearfully) said goodbye the following morning as we boarded the school buses for the airport. My time in this program made me appreciate our country that much more, and for me it is a week that will never be forgotten.”
Sports & Fitness 1996
"It was the best experience of my high school life! for real! I am thinking about sending some money to EWC soon!"
Arts & Culture 2010
"I participated in the Arts & Culture program, November 14-20, 2010. I found this to be one of the most defining weeks of my entire life, and, wanting to share the experience, I wrote an article for my school's newsletter and Youthink Magazine when I got home from the trip. It is my goal to tell as many students as possible about this trip in hopes that they may have this opportunity as well. I only wish every person could have this experience!"
Arts & Culture 2009 & Historica at the Games 2010
"I was a shy teenager, but when I attended EWC in 2009, I was able to leave my comfort zone and make some amazing friends. The next year, I was chosen to participate in EWC's Vancouver 2010 Olympics program. It was one of my most memorable experiences, and the people I met there continue to inspire me. In the past 8 months, I reconnected with a fellow participant during the team selection process for the Canadian U24 Dragon Boat Team. Now, instead of watching an international sporting event, we will be paddling together in the 2015 World Championships! Thanks EWC for helping me take some of those first steps to becoming something more."
Arts & Culture 1999 & Monitor since 2010
"Encounters with Canada (EWC) is not only the country's largest youth forum but there is no other programme like it. EWC has themes to match almost all interests and runs throughout the academic year. I first attended as a participant in Arts & Culture in April of 1999. It gave me an introduction to Canada, its institutions, its official languages, its people and its youth that no classroom or textbook could duplicate. EWC gave me the motivation to be fluently bilingual and learn more about my country to the extent that I decided to pursue my BA in Canadian Studies, a BEd in Secondary Social Studies and a Certificate in French Language Studies from the University of Calgary in 2005. In the desire to help a new generation of young students nationwide, I decided to return to EWC. Friends made and memories from there last well beyond the one week at the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre. My professional life as a teacher and now a federal public servant was inspired in part by my first visit to Ottawa in the spring of 1999."
International Affairs 2010
"I attended EWC in October 2010 for the International Affairs week, and I fell in love and am STILL in love with the program, the people, and the life of EWC. Being given the chance to encounter so many like minded Canadians across Canada really opened up my eyes to the diverse country we have, and all the opportunities it holds. EWC is a place of innovation that has inspired me in discovering my passion for international business."
Journalism & Communications 2005
"In 2005 I left for Encounters with Canada without knowing it would have such a huge impact on my life. The experiences I had and the people I met will stay with me forever. Although EWC was only a week long, I learned so much about myself and my peers from around the country. Some of the highlights of my trip included watching Michaëlle Jean pass her first bill and listening to the INCREDIBLE speakers who came to the Terry Fox Centre. As a future teacher, I look forward to promoting this program in schools, so that others can have the same amazing experience that I was so lucky to have!"
Natural Resources & Environment 1985
"Attending the Terry Fox Centre had a huge impact on me. I still talk of how the Centre changed my life - literally. I came back and dived into my studies so I could attend university. At the time I attended, I was going through great emotional difficulty in my life and attending the Centre sparked the leadership bug and voila... I turned my life around. Today, I have a Ph.D. and I am very active in my community."
International Affairs 2011
"Attending Encounters with Canada was a watershed moment in my life. It was my first experience in any forum, and it really opened my eyes to all the opportunities that are out there for the people who look for them. Before attending, I was a shy kid with big aspirations, but no way of attaining them. After, I became inspired to become a leader in my school and community and an advocate for the importance of bilingualism. I now plan to attend the University of Ottawa in International Development and Globalization. In the past year, I have lived some extraordinary experiences, but none of them would have been remotely possible without Encounters."
Trina (Burndred) Jones
Arts & Culture 1995
“20 years ago, I participated in an Encounters with Canada Arts and Culture week. I made so many friends and still have so many fantastic memories of this program. It changed the way I thought about my country and formed many opinions that have carried into my adulthood. I still have friends that I made that week, and I still feel so strongly that it was one of the best weeks of my youth. Thank you for all the memories, and I love that you're still going strong and providing the same experience for so many of today's youth.”
Canada Remembers 2012
"My Encounters with Canada story is one that I enjoy sharing every chance that I get. The week I spent in Ottawa with this amazing program is such a defining one in my life. Through EWC I gained self-confidence, learned a lot about myself, and met so many people from across the country - many of whom I remain in contact with and one who has become my closest friend. Visiting Ottawa in grade 11 also led me to attend Carleton University, allowing me to live in Ottawa now. Since attending this program 4 years ago, I have promoted it at my high school and I continue to promote it to any high school student I meet. This program sparked something in me that has never left, and I am grateful for my experience every day!"
Science & Technology 1983
"Thank you so much. I still actually have some of the 'memories' I collected from that time. I stayed in contact over the years the old fashioned way (letters) with many of the people that attended, and hope some of them have joined the alumni as well. My niece is going to attend Encounters. She is the one who mentioned there was an alumni section. I had such great fun there. Thank you for bringing back more memories!! Do the kids still wake up with the Parachute Club song "Rise Up!" ... played loudly on speakers!! A memory for sure ...not quite the most favourite!"
"Prior to attending EWC for the law program in 2008, I had no direction for what I wanted to pursue after high school. EWC gave me the confidence I needed in myself to return to my high school motivated to figure this out and strive for the top. Since then, I have graduated from Carleton University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in law and legal studies. I am now attending the Memorial University of Newfoundland as a student in the Master of Health Ethics program. My desire is to combine my passion for the law, which began at EWC, with my interests in women’s healthcare. My educational journey is ongoing, so I can’t tell you exactly where I’ll end up. But one thing I do know is this: I arrived at EWC as a tenth grader with average grades and few goals, and I left an informed and engaged youth who couldn’t wait to learn more. And I’ve never looked back! I will always recommend EWC to every Canadian youth I meet.”
Monitor since 1996
"I began coming to Encounters as a teacher-monitor in the winter of 1996. I immediately recognized the greatness and value of the program to our youth and our country. To have all of our diverse cultures under one roof for a week is a priceless experience. All of us, participants and monitors alike, learn more about our country in that week than we could learn in a one year course in school. We live the Canadian mosaic! One of the highlights for me was in September 2012, when my daughter came as a monitor too. She says she now understands why I continue to return. Over the years I have met many amazing people – participants, guest speakers, politicians, Governors General, royalty, and have visited just about every attraction there is in Ottawa. Priceless experiences! I know that I will continue returning to the program for as long as I am able."
Business & Entrepreneurship 2009
"When I arrived at Encounters with Canada, I was nothing more than your average kid, who didn't know anything outside of my western society bubble. That one week in Ottawa, everything within me changed, and I became the person that I am today. Meeting William and Kate (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge), spending my summers volunteering in rural Africa, speaking to youth about social change, all the things I do and cherish in my life today - I owe it all to Encounters with Canada."