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February 22, 2016

Debut of New Encounters’ Theme Week

Big excitement at Encounters with Canada! Mid-February saw 120 young Canadian teens from across the country travel to Ottawa to attend EWC’s new First Responders week and sample careers in such fields as policing, firefighting and emergency medical services. This was Encounters’ first time offering this theme week, and considering the rave reviews it received, it will be repeated next year with two program weeks being offered.

Throughout the week, First Responder participants took part in a jam-packed schedule of activities - a VIP tour of Parliament Hill, a half day at the RCMP Technical and Protective Operations Facility and visits to the Canadian War Museum and the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum.

The Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre buzzed with guest speakers, experts who came to offer hands-on workshops and speak about their work, relating first-hand experiences. In so doing, participants learned the basics of various first responder professions, coupled with the necessary educational prerequisites required to enter these fields.

Ottawa paramedic Jean-Pierre Trottier detailed the ins and outs of his profession, while Constable Jacques Carrière talked about what it personally takes to be a member of the police force. Coast Guard officer Julie Baribeau discussed the training Coast Guard personnel undergo to save lives, to navigate sometimes treacherous seas and to generally protect Canadian waterways and the people who travel them.

As a bonus, all participants took part in CPR and defibrillator training and received their certification, acquiring the skills, confidence and peace of mind to handle such emergencies as a cardiac arrest. And as always, they forged friendships with youth from across Canada and brought home memories of a lifetime.

Said Director General Linda Brunet: “In the past few years, disasters - man-made and natural - have reaffirmed the importance and bravery of our country’s first responders. There is no doubt that we have a heightened appreciation of the men and women who put their lives on the line when others are in danger. However, it's not just major events that make these people so special and vital to our communities. It's the day-to-day emergencies, where these first responders shine the brightest. Encounters with Canada is proud to dedicate a full program week to these heroes and heroines - to introduce our Canadian youth to these proud and worthy professions.”