Thunder Bay

Toronto kids see life on the 'other side' of Ontario on school trip to Greenstone

A group of 20 inner-city students from the Toronto Catholic School Board are experiencing northwestern Ontario for the first time in a partnership between Catholic school boards that aims to broaden students' experience.

Northern Ontario students 'get to highlight their strengths, to show what our world is all about'

A group of inner-city students from Toronto will have the opportunity of experiencing Northwestern Ontario, thanks to a joint program with the Superior North School Board.

A group of 20 inner-city students from the Toronto Catholic School Board are experiencing northwestern Ontario for the first time in a partnership between Catholic school boards that aims to broaden students' experience.

Bringing inner-city students this far out of their surroundings allows them to experience Ontario with fresh eyes, said Dean Burke, vice-principal of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Longlac, Ont. 

"Can you imagine seeing the Palisades, the great cliffs around Orient Bay, for the first time?" Burke said. "For these kids, it's learning about life on the other side of the province."

A group of inner city kids from Toronto are beginning their great northwestern adventure this morning in Geraldton. Dean Burke is the teacher facilitating the trip. 6:08

Burke said the students themselves were the ones who initiated the journey to the Superior North region, and so far the experience has been eye-opening.

They participated in a smudge and were welcomed with a traditional Anishinaabe song.

The group from Toronto is culturally diverse, said Burke, and some are first and second generation Canadians, so likely their only experience with northwestern Ontario's culture has come from textbooks.

"[What they have seen] just isn't prevalent in inner city Toronto," he said.

"One student said she didn't know what the welcoming song meant," said Burke, "but she was emotionally moved by the spirit of the circle we were standing in."

From Burke's perspective, the exchange between boards is a great opportunity to "flip the formula."

"We usually get to visit Toronto and see all the great things that Toronto has to offer," Burke said, "now our students get to highlight their strengths, to show what our world is all about."

The trip concludes with a Toronto-led symposium on the "7 Habits of Highly-Effective Teens" in Geraldton and a trek up the Pijitawabik Palisades.

Edited/packaged by Casey Stranges

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