Student exchange great

  • May. 13, 2009 3:00 p.m.

Hoop dances, grass dances and playing the big drum at a Pow Wow were highlights of a recent YMCA student exchange that took 15 Queen Charlotte Secondary students to Morley, Alberta. Kris Olsen, one of three chaperones, said the trip was unreal. The community is half an hour east of Banff and the group went there to ski and soak in the hot springs, as well as eat at the famous Banff Springs Hotel. They rock climbed, did ropes courses and spent time at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, where displays chronicle the way of life of Alberta First Nations. One of the most exciting things for the students, he said, was realizing how much the youth in Morley still spoke their Nakoda language. “That was one of the big things the kids were aware of,” he said. This was the second exchange between southern Haida Gwaii and Morley students, he said. Five years ago, students from here went to Alberta and students from there came here. Mr. Olsen said this group of Grades 9 and 10 students got to meet the brothers and sisters of those who had been to the islands community before. Mr. Olsen said the dancing and singing was phenomenal – one little girl did a blanket dance, with the best footwork he’s seen. One of the YMCA’s goals is to get youth to contribute to their communities and in Morley students painted a trading post that had been vandalized. Twelve children from Morley are set to arrive on the islands tomorrow (May 15) and Mr. Olsen said the local students will try to show the Nakota students a similar level of hospitality. “We’re really going to put it on,” he said. Plans involve an All-island Relay, which will take them to all communities and end in a teen dance. The youth will collect donations and non-perishable food items to go to local families as part of this event. Donations can be brought out along the route of the race or be picked up by calling QCSS. They also plan to go to the Haida Heritage Centre, paddle a canoe, take surf lessons, go crabbing, hike Tow Hill, see whales and more. Mr. Olsen says the students want to thank the YMCA, QCSS and their families for supporting the trip. Welcome to Haida Gwaii, Morley students!

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