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April 30, 2012

Speakers and events ignite passion in Encounters with Canada participants

2012 is Encounters with Canada’s 30th anniversary and, to date, it has been nothing but exceptional!

Facts and stats

Some 1,630 participants from across the country attended the program during the 2012 winter-spring session. Students had a choice of ten different career-oriented themes, including Medicine & Health, Sports & Fitness, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, International Affairs, Arts & Culture, Politics in Canada, Vimy: Canada’s coming of Age, Inuit Arts & Culture, Science & Technology, and Ecology & Environment.

Encounters with Canada was very fortunate to have no less than 48 speakers give of their time and talent during our 14-week session. The formidable line-up of speakers included: Heritage Minister James Moore; Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt, notably, one of Encounters with Canada’s 90,000 alumni; Minister of State and Chief Government Whip Gordon O’Connor; Parliamentary Secretary to Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, MP Eve Adams; MP for Westmount-Ville-Marie Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut; new RCMP Commissioner Robert Paulson; Netherlands Ambassador to Canada Wim Geerts; Senior Citizenship Judge George Springate; Historica Canada Executive Vice-Chairman Michael Levine, MP for Ottawa-Vanier Mauril Bélanger; MP for Papineau Justin Trudeau; MP for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville Stéphane Dion; retired Canadian Space Agency Program Manager of the Space and Life Sciences Glen Campbell; motivational speaker and globetrotter Robert Forest; retired hockey player and Olympian François Ouimet; and film-maker Elia Saikaly, who climbed Mount Everest. Said participant Kenedi Thompson from Whitehorse, Yukon: “The speakers all raised interesting points about their lives. I felt after each presentation that I knew a lot more about what goes on behind the scenes in the country in which I live.”

Special attractions

This session, Encounters with Canada counted itself fortunate to include a very unique arts and culture week, sponsored by the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada. Participants experienced many aspects of the rich and diverse Inuit culture, with a goal to educate and create a dialogue between Inuit and non-Inuit youth from across Canada.

A Canadian citizenship ceremony, presided over by Senior Citizenship Judge George Springate, took place at the Centre in March, and saw 40 new Canadians swear allegiance to their new country, while participants had the opportunity to reaffirm their
citizenship alongside them.

A three-year partnership with The Vimy Foundation, which has more fully educated participants about the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, has been a perennial favourite; so much so, that a second week was offered during the 2012 session. And lucky participants attending these weeks were very fortunate to receive a subsidy of $75 to attend, generously donated by the Encounters with Canada Support Foundation.

A generous funder

The biggest news this session was the successful conclusion of a new funding agreement with Canadian Heritage to support the Encounters with Canada program for the next three years. On April 2, 2012, Minister James Moore personally came to the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre to make this announcement to 135 participants and teacher-monitors from every province and territory across our land. The Minister announced funding of more than $10.2 million over three years, through the Exchanges Canada program of the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Minister informed participants that investing in Encounters with Canada was an easy choice to make: “Because Encounters with Canada works. Encounters has been successful. Ninety-thousand people have been touched by this program… By participating in Encounters with Canada, young Canadians are given an invaluable opportunity to come to our nation’s capital to discover Canada, learn about its institutions, develop leadership skills, and live an extraordinary experience.”

On behalf of the Historica Canada, Executive Vice-Chairman Michael Levine later remarked: “In a very difficult economic time for the government, we deeply appreciate the faith the Minister and his government have shown in the Historica Canada and its Encounters with Canada program.”

The last four months have been eventful and momentous – and presage a glorious beginning to our official 30th celebrations upcoming in September of this year – a time to rejoice both our past and future successes.