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February 13, 2020

Encounters with Canada: "It will forever be a part of our lives"

My name is Meaghan and I attended Encounters with Canada in April 2004. I wanted to reach out to you and send a formal thank you note as Encounters with Canada truly changed the course of my life.

In April 2004, I flew from Kamloops BC to attend your program. It was my first time visiting Ottawa; a place that became close to my heart as I later attended Carleton University because of this trip. During my week at Encounters with Canada I met a young man named Dustin Marks. Dustin is from Winnipeg and it was also his first time visiting Ottawa. Dustin and I became close friends during the week as we developed a deep bond through our shared new experiences (travelling away from home, meeting like-minded people and exposure to a 'larger world' outside of our own 'teenage bubbles'). After our week was over we spoke on the phone nightly for a few months until it eventually fizzled out due to distance.

Ten years later, a mutual friend from Encounters posted her wedding photos and I noticed Dustin in the wedding photos. I sent him a message and his response was "Are you married yet? Have I missed my chance?". He later flew to Calgary where I was living at the time and took me on a "real date". We started dating long distance and I eventually moved to Winnipeg to continue our relationship.

In March 2018, Dustin surprised me with a trip to Ottawa and proposed on the steps of Parliament Hill. Many people may not view the steps of Parliament Hill as "romantic" but for us it is where our story started.

In January 2019, we celebrated our wedding in Mexico with 120+ guests. We tried to recreate the photo on the steps of Parliament Hill so I've included it in this email.

Today is our one year anniversary and I wanted to share our love story with you and the staff at Encounters with Canada. Thank you for the wonderful program you fight for every day. It will forever be a part of our lives.