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November 15, 2019

Everyone Loves Tim Hortons and Misses their Mom’s Cooking. By: Shelby Laycock

I have had the opportunity this week to participate in the media and communications week at Encounters with Canada in Ottawa. It has been an unforgettable experience where I have met people from across Canada and was introduced to other cultures. I have gained a new appreciation for the efforts that people make for their passion, and it has encouraged me to pursue mine. It’s difficult to write down everything I have learned this week, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few main points.

Everywhere in Canada is unique, from Quebec and PEI, to my little town in rural Alberta, yet we all still connect with each other. We’ve all shared the same experience of growing up in Canada as well as the kindness of Canadian strangers, and we all have a common motivation for growth. This week I discovered the faith I have, as well as the faith that Canada as a whole has in my generation, no matter where we’re from.

I have also learned the importance of community. One of the themes of the week was communication, and the idea that community stems from communication. We spent a day at the National Youth Summit against online extremism, and participated in meaningful conversations about bullying, hateful content, fake news and negative media. We were able to share our opinions with people who had influential careers in social media, government, journalism and online protection committees. They gave us opportunities to ask questions and give input on things that affect our separate communities, as well as Canadian youth’s community. They helped us recognize how important the youth of Canada is to the future of our nation.

Throughout the week we were introduced to many different people that showed us different aspects of their lives, careers, and cultures. We had an African/Caribbean dance instructor who taught us about her roots and accepted any questions we asked graciously. She was very patient with our lack of rhythm. We also had an Indigenous hoops performance where the dancer explained the background and meaning shown through her dance, while giving us a chance to participate. We had a war veteran come in and lead us in a memorial ceremony to remind us of the soldiers and the sacrifices they have made that makes it possible for our voices to be heard. Becoming immersed in people’s stories was the most impactful part of the week for me. The way to become meaningfully connected as Canadians is through stories about real lives and experiences. We can enrich our lives by learning more about others, which is something that Encounters with Canada encourages. Media and communication outlets can strike up conversations, which lead to stories, which leads to connections with others.

A few other things I learned are: everyone loves Tim Hortons and misses their mom’s cooking (no exceptions), and everyone misses their dogs and their family more than they thought they would. I’ve been so lucky to be able to spend a week with all of these dedicated, welcoming, unique, intuitive and amazing people. Encounters has helped guide me through my future decisions by providing me with outlets, connections, and guidance regarding the careers involved in journalism, media, and communications. It’s also allowed me to meet like-minded people who have the same ambitions. I’ll miss the memories I have made, the people I’ve met, and the knowledge I gained during this experience. Because of Encounters, I know that I will go into my future schooling and career with more confidence and drive, as well as an appreciation for my community, and the stories of those around me.