North meets south on a student exchange

  • June 4, 2007
TORONTO - Students from a Toronto Catholic high school and Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, exchanged homes for a week this spring.
{sidebar id=2}For 10 days in May, students from Maani Ulujuk Ilinnarvik High School in Rankin Inlet stayed in Toronto with students from Bishop Allen Academy. Bishop Allen students had visited Nunavut from April 19 to 26.

Twenty-eight students and chaperones participated in the exchange, organized by Bishop Allen staff and funded by the YMCA.

“It’s a good experience. I got to see what it is like to live down south, experience the city life,” said Tracey Brown, a Grade 12 student from Maani Ulujuk Ilinnarvik High School who was partnered with Grade 12 student Rachel Devine-Turiff from Bishop Allen.

While the students from Nunavut were in Toronto they had the chance to go to Niagara Falls, Centre Island and a favourite pastime of many city students, shopping in the mall. The Bishop Allen student council also hosted a breakfast and afterward all the students cleaned up a nearby ravine.

Brown said a big difference between the two places is time. “It’s so busy here,” she said.

Bishop Allen students were chosen after submitting papers about why they deserved to go and through references from the school staff.

While in Rankin Inlet, a town of 2,500 on the west shore of Hudson Bay, the Toronto students experienced an Inuit lifestyle, participating in drum dancing, listening to the tale of a nomad elder and trying the local cuisine of whale, seal and caribou.

“There was more of a family dynamic, everyone would go home and eat lunch together. The town stopped at 12:30 p.m.,” said Devine-Turriff.

Toronto students also learned that Nunavut was not what they expected.

“I went in being naive with the belief that it was some place different than ours,” said Devine-Turriff. “Instead of finding all of these differences I found all of these similarities.”

Not only did students come out with knowledge of the land and culture, they came out with knowledge about themselves and how their surroundings affect the way they think and act.

“I was able to better look at myself. It helped me understand why I was so restricted compared to them. I expected to come out with more knowledge about them but I came back with more knowledge about myself,” said Devine-Turriff.

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