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The south comes to Cape Dorset
A group of Ottawa high school students visits as first leg of exchange begins

Danielle Sachs
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 6, 2013

Students from Peter Pitseolak High School in Cape Dorset welcomed a group of students from Ottawa's Mother Theresa High School last week.

NNSL photo/graphic

Students from Peter Pitseolak High School in Cape Dorset recently hosted 16 students from Ottawa as part of an exchange. - photo courtesy of Mike Soares

It was the first part of youth exchange program. The Cape Dorset students will be leaving for Ottawa on May 18.

The trip was organized under the Society for Educational Visits and Exchanges Canada, a charitable organization that helps co-ordinate student exchanges across Canada under the Youth Exchanges Canada program.

Each participating student has their costs covered through funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

"For our kids to interact with this group it was a fantastic experience," said principal Mike Soares.

The Ottawa students lodged at the school for seven days. There were 16 in total, students that were able to visit the community said Soares.

The week was packed with activities, from watching artists at work to taking part in Northern games such as rag wrestling and the high kick.

In the short week that the students were visiting, Soares said it was amazing to see the bond that developed between the Cape Dorset students and the students from Ottawa.

"They just left (April 27) and there were some tears at the airport," said Soares. "It's pretty awesome to see kids that have grown up in two entirely different environments interact like that."

There were surprises on both ends. The Cape Dorset students were expecting to see a lot of white kids with blonde hair while the Ottawa students weren't even sure if people would be speaking English, said Soares.

"One of the students that visited from Ottawa was Filipino and we went fishing everyone had to get fishing licenses but this kid said 'I can pass for Inuit. I don't need one,'" said Soares, who was quick to add they did make sure everyone had a license.

Soares credits the success of the exchange with the tireless dedication of the teachers at the school.

"Already we're talking about next year's student exchange. As long as we have teachers willing to go the extra mile it'll all work out."

The importance of programs like this is it helps students see there's life after high school, said Soares.

"Through these exchanges they can see what opportunities are there for them, then they can come back to the community and help make it a better place."

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