North meets south in Nelson student exchange

Sixteen students from L.V. Rogers Secondary school will travel to Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories in April. A burger and beer fundraiser for their trip goes January 18 at Finley’s. - Submitted
Sixteen students from L.V. Rogers Secondary school will travel to Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories in April. A burger and beer fundraiser for their trip goes January 18 at Finley’s.
— image credit: Submitted

What does Nelson have in common with Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories? We will soon find out.

Sixteen L.V. Rogers Secondary students are participating in an exchange with Chief Julius School in Fort McPherson. The northern students will be here for a week in February. Our students will travel to the remote hamlet of 850, which is home to the Teetl’it Gwich’in People, in April.

“Not only will our students visit a part of Canada that few of us will ever see, but both groups will be challenged to embrace a very different culture and many new experiences,” explained teacher Jeff Yasinchuk.

The community of Fort McPherson is preparing to take our students caribou hunting and dog sledding, to work with elders on traditional crafts, to be honoured guests at a community feast, and to travel to a nearby village for a spring festival.

The LVR students are meeting twice a week to plan activities that will help our guests learn about our communities, our culture, and some of the ecosystems in our region. They hope to connect with local aboriginal people, tour a dam, go snowshoeing to learn about mountain caribou, visit the hot springs, go downhill skiing, sing with the Corazon Youth Choir, and work on a few community service projects.

Selkirk College has offered to host a lunch and activities at their Aboriginal Gathering Place. The students would also like to do a group art project to commemorate the experience: to create two mosaics with one going on permanent display here in Nelson and the second going to Fort McPherson.

The YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada program covers the costs of travel between the two communities. The LVR students are currently writing grants and seeking donations to cover the costs of the activities that they will do while the northern students are here. To help raise money, Finley’s is hosting a burger and beer night on Friday, January 18 and the students are organizing a movie night and BBQ lunch for other LVR students.

“We really need the community to embrace our guests from Fort McPherson,” said student Micah May. “Many of them have never travelled outside of their region so we want them to feel welcome and part of our community, rather than just visitors.”

The LVR students are also hoping to raise enough money to create a mini documentary film about the exchange experience. They would like to show the film to the broader community, to schools around the region and enter it into some youth film festivals.

Readers of the Nelson Star will learn about the experience as it unfolds because the LVR students will take turns writing a bi-monthly column that will chronicle their efforts to plan activities, host our guests and then travel north.

Anyone who would like more information about the exchange or could make a donation to this exciting adventure should contact L.V. Rogers at 250-352-5538.

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