Nunavut teens off to Ottawa for leadership program
“I’m most looking forward to meeting new people”
Special to Nunatsiaq News
CAMBRIDGE BAY — The goal is to help turn teenagers into informed and engaged citizens, and future leaders.
And next week, Danielle Omilgoetok and Alysha Maksagak, Grade 10 students at Kiilinik High School in Cambridge Bay, will be the next Nunavut teenagers to be part of that plan.
On Sunday, the two 15-year-olds will travel to Ottawa for the week-long Encounters with Canada program, the country’s largest youth forum, which has seen more than 98,000 students over its 33-year lifespan.
The conferences take place every week during the Canadian school year and bring together students from every province and territory to learn about national institutions, meet accomplished Canadians, explore different career options and develop leadership skills. Every student who goes is eligible to attend only once.
“I’m really excited to go,” said Omilgoetok. “I think it’s going to be a good experience.”
Each week of the program offers a different theme for the students to be excited about. These themes range from ecology and environment to journalism and communications, science and technology, sports and fitness and many others.
Omilgoetok and Maksagak will participate in the arts and culture-themed week from Sunday Feb.1 until Feb.8.
“Art is fascinating to me,” said Maksagak. “And I really want to learn more about other cultures other than my own. Cambridge Bay is so isolated, I can’t wait to see how other cultures are similar to mine or different. Just to see what else is out there.”
During this particular Encounters with Canada week, students will participate in a number of different activities, such as art therapy, mime, swing dancing, slam, environmental art, collage and much more.
Participants will also visit the National Gallery of Canada.
“I’m most looking forward to meeting new people,” Omilgoetok said.
Approximately 130 students attend the free program each week, so there will be a lot of new friends to make.
To qualify for the program, students need to be between the ages of 14 and 17, be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, have permission from their parent or guardian, be enrolled in high school and receive a recommendation from their school.
“I am really looking forward to going to the capital of Canada and seeing what opportunities there are outside my hometown,” said Maksagak. “It’s definitely going to be really interesting.”