Claremont students on board with Canadian studies

Tour will take 40 Grade 11 students across the country and conclude with visit to Parliament

Students from the Claremont Institute for Global Solutions program form a train behind conductor Daniel Day (with engineer’s hat and toy train whistle). Forty students from the class are heading out Nov. 4 to 14 on their Rails to Relevance school trip

Students from the Claremont Institute for Global Solutions program form a train behind conductor Daniel Day (with engineer’s hat and toy train whistle). Forty students from the class are heading out Nov. 4 to 14 on their Rails to Relevance school trip

A group of Claremont secondary students have hit the rails on the class’s fourth annual Rails to Relevance trip across Canada.

Forty Grade 11 students from Claremont’s Institute for Global Solutions program, and a crew of teachers, will board the train in Vancouver Nov. 4 on a three-day trip to Winnipeg.

“There’s no wifi on the train, and with less of the modern distractions, we find the students really do connect and build relationships in a positive way,” said teacher Graeme Mitchell.

After travelling by rail to Winnipeg, the crew will fly to Quebec City and then complete the tour at the nation’s capital. The program is designed to integrate Canada’s history, geography and political landscape.

The biggest event on the tour itinerary is a scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, though student Aislyn King said the expectations are tempered. This comes despite the fact last year’s Rails to Relevance tour group did meet with Trudeau.

“We understand that we might not get to meet him as he is now the prime minister,” King said.

Regardless, the crew will get a proper tour of the House of Commons by Saanich-Gulf Islands MP Elizabeth May. The Green Party leader makes regular visits to speak to the IGS class and will lead the students on a one-hour, private tour.

Throughout the trip the students will experience a series of educational activities including visits to the Museum of Human Rights, the War Museum, and a tour of old town in Quebec City.

The theme of the trip is based on two key questions, “What does it mean to be a citizen of Canada?” and, “What is Canada’s responsibility to the world?” Mitchell said.

To help afford the trip, all students were expected to fundraise. Central Saanich-based Level Ground provided its free trade products, coffee, sugar and more, for the students to sell.

“We went door to door, worked our butts off, and it was really fun actually,” said Natalie Quon. “We met interesting people, also got yelled at, but it was all in good fun.”

King and Quon led the way but all chipped in, Mitchell said. A silent auction at the Victoria Grizzlies junior hockey game was also a major success. One local business, Island Marble, donated a bathroom renovation package that raised $2,700.

It isn’t just the students who’re looking forward to the tour.

Student teacher Erika Ingram is focused on the opportunity to bring a faraway place, such as Ottawa, to life in a class setting.

“As a new teacher I can’t help but think I’ll be able to create this experience for the students,” Ingram said.

Once the group returns it will pair the experience with video and photo coverage to create documentaries. The short films are showcased at the annual Citizen Can film festival, based on the Rails to Relevance tour, in early December.