Oh the Places You’ll Go: Hit the Road with Experiences Canada

Canada 150
Experiences Canada wants to broaden your horizons in 2017 with Experiences Canada 150&Me.

Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation is offering a chance for youth to take flight — literally. Experiences Canada wants to broaden your horizons in 2017, and the journey starts with a single question: what is Canada’s greatest challenge or opportunity of your generation?

Experiences Canada 150&Me, a Canada 150 Signature project, is giving youth the opportunity to explore Canada’s future while also exploring the country. Pack your bags, Experiences Canada President Deborah Morrison explains how Experiences Canada 150&Me could take you to new places.

Why did Experiences Canada want to be involved in the Canada 150 celebrations?

This project gives kids a chance to reflect on the Canada they want for their generation. History is important, but ’67 [the Centennial] was successful because it belonged to that generation of youth. We felt it was important that this celebration belong to this generation — 50 years later that’s a really different picture. Youth today are more connected, not just to each other but to events around the world.

How do youth become involved with Experiences Canada 150&Me?

Youth who wish to participate can tell us "what is the greatest challenge for your generation," using any medium: an essay, a poem or a song, video, painting or sculpting. They make submissions online, and tell us what those challenges are and their solutions.

150 students will be given the opportunity to talk about the issues they care about most in different communities all across Canada. We put them with leaders in the fields who can mentor them so they can take a personal interest and turn it into a lifelong passion.

How did Experiences Canada come up with the idea?

It’s a very old idea, but the best way to "bring people together" is to physically connect them. In a country as large as Canada it’s difficult, especially for kids, to grasp the whole country as part of their own, to have that connectedness whether it’s British Columbia, Nova Scotia, or Iqaluit.

Selected students will discover the country while they discuss the future.
What will the judging panel for the submissions look like?

It’s a mixed bag of ways the kids can communicate [their idea], so we want the judging to be fair. We’ll bring in educators to evaluate critical thinking skills, but we also look at creativity. We’ll have artists help us in a variety of mediums, and activists and leaders in the fields the kids are talking about.

What kinds of challenges and ideas do you anticipate will come to light?

To be honest that’s the scariest part, we don’t know what they’re going to say! I think there’s an overwhelming interest in social justice and human rights, relationships with First Nations, and the environment, and they care deeply about immigration, diversity and Canadian identity — we’re in a whole new era of what it means to be Canadian. Some of the best solutions to some of our toughest challenges are going to come from young people who [have] a completely new perspective.

What will the forums be like?

The youth chosen will travel to a community, and be hosted in a family and a school. They’ll explore historic sites relating to the theme, and get involved in the community. At the forum itself, which is a one day event, local and regional schools are invited to participate. It will feature the projects that were selected to be there, inspirational speakers, and workshops where all the kids in attendance can get involved. After the regional events, we choose 150 teenagers to present what happened at their regional event to a national group of group of business, government and community leaders in Ottawa.

What do you think are going to be the greatest challenges for their generation?

Oh that’s for them to answer! One of the greatest hopes I have is that we’re creating a new network for passionate young Canadians committed to key issues.

The greatest challenge of the project is that I expect to see so many amazing submissions that I’ll want to take a 1000 kids to Ottawa, not just 150!

Experiences Canada President and CEO Deborah Morrison.

The Experiences Canada 150&Me program is open to high school, CEGEP and first year University students, and entries will be accepted starting in summer 2016. Submissions close in February 2017 for judging, and the 150 chosen applicants hit the road in April and May

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