April 7, 2014

Riverside Public School students celebrate Canada’s diversity in cross-cultural learning experience

Thirty-two students from Riverside Public School and Kugaaruk, Nunavut, will participate in YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada, a program of the YMCA of Greater Toronto, from April to May. As part of the Riverside Leadership Exchange, 16 students from different cultural groups will venture above the Arctic Circle to the edge of the North West Passage from Apr. 10 to 18. During this time, 16 Inuit students from the Hamlet of Kugaaruk will visit the Riverside community of Mississauga from May 17 to 24.

“We’re excited for our students to gain new skills and knowledge through the YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada program,” says Paul Officer, YMCA Coordinator and principal at Riverside Public School. “The program brings together students from diverse backgrounds in meaningful social action projects and aligns perfectly with our school’s mission to develop respectful and caring global citizens.”

YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada promotes cross-cultural awareness, a sense of belonging among Canadian youth aged 13 to 17 and encourages student empowerment through joint projects. Participants are twinned with same-age groups from another province or territory and take turns staying in each other's communities, where they learn new skills, develop a stronger sense of community, and get a chance to experience Canada’s diversity firsthand.

Both communities have activities planned for the students during the exchange. In Mississauga, students will have the opportunity to visit major attractions including the CN Tower, African Lion Safari and Niagara Falls, and will take part in an art lesson at the Ontario College of Art and Design. In Nunavut, students will learn about daily life through cultural events, including eating traditional food, dancing, building igloos, ice fishing and hunting.

The Riverside and Kugaaruk groups will also be involved in a joint community engagement project. Students will prepare freeze dried soup for 30 third world countries, remove evasive species from the Rattray Marsh in Ontario and help elders in a Nunavut community centre. 

Travel costs for the program are funded by the Government of Canada through Exchanges Canada. Since 1976, thousands of young people have experienced the cultural and geographic diversity of Canada by participating in YMCA Youth Exchanges.

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Media contact: Paul Officer, YMCA Coordinator, Riverside Public School, 905-274-1515 or 905-388-3193, [email protected]

Reference:  Avishka Juta, Communications Assistant, 905-890-1010, ext. 2098, [email protected]

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