Sudbury

Students from Moosonee and Toronto meet in Ontario's far north

A week-long trip for a group of grade 8 students from a Toronto public school to Ontario's remote far north this week has allowed kids from very different backgrounds to meet and learn from each other.

Grade 8s from Toronto District school spend a week in Moosonee

Students from Cedarvale Community School in Toronto spent a week in Moosonee with students from the remote community's Bishop Belleau School. (Supplied by David Sonenberg)

A week-long trip for a group of grade 8 students from a Toronto public school to Ontario's remote far north this week has allowed kids from very different backgrounds to meet and learn from each other.

About 30 students from Cedarvale Community School were in Moosonee meeting with local youth from from Bishop Belleau School.

"It's been really very comfortable sharing and learning and [a] social experience for them," said David Sonenberg, the Toronto students' teacher, who said he wanted to partner with a school that would gain his students an understanding of the difference between urban and remote settlements.

"It's been beautiful, honestly."

The trip to the far north is the first chance the students, who live in communities over 800 kilometres apart, have had to meet face-to-face after working together over social media for the balance of the year.
The students spent the week getting to better know each other as well as the other group's culture and way of life. (Supplied by David Sonenberg)

The projects involved finding a solution to a world problem — and some solutions the students came up with ranged from a grocery store app to a solar-powered tent. The long-distance collaboration also allowed the students to start learning more about each other and how they live.

"The end goal, like our real goal is that we would learn together and really start applying those 21st century learning skills," Sonenberg said.

Since arriving earlier in the week, the Toronto students have been shown around town by their hosts who have been sharing how they live.

Taking the train into town — which, along with air travel, is the only way to access Moosonee from the south — was a new experience for Tatiana Bogdanov, one of the Toronto students.

"It is just calming in the way to get away from all the busyness of the city," she said, adding that landscape featured a vista much different than what she's used to in downtown Toronto.

The unique opportunity is not lost on the students from the north, either.
"It's been fun seeing new faces when we live in Moosonee," said Benny Crowe, a student at Bishop Belleau School. (Supplied by David Sonenberg)

"It's been fun seeing new faces when we live in Moosonee," said Benny Crowe, a student at Bishop Belleau School.

"We only see faces we see everyday."

Bishop Belleau's grade 6, 7, 8 teacher, Brenda Mueller, spearheaded the project for her students.

She hopes the experience will also teach their students that they can work remotely and possibly build a career for themselves without being forced to leave the community.