Forget Toronto field trips, Timmins youth say
Don Curry - Timmins Daily Press - June 28, 2006
Schools should forget Toronto field trips and promote Northern Ontario instead, participants at the second annual Osprey Youth Development Workshop said in Timmins May 25.
Participants, including high school students, college staff and faculty, and young people in the workforce said Toronto field trips send a message to young people that there is nothing worth seeing in the North. They said canoeing and kayaking trips and visits to other centres in Northern Ontario would send a positive message that the North is worth exploring and has a lot to offer.
They said the City of Timmins should promote itself better, pointing out to young people that housing is cheaper and the environment cleaner than in southern Ontario. However, they also pointed out that garbage in the streets, stores with boarded windows and crumbling infrastructure such as arenas and playing fields send a negative message to those interested in re-locating here.
Another major theme among the participants was that 17 is too young to be graduating from high school and graduates should look at options of returning to school for another year, or taking a year of study at Northern College to examine their career options.
They said the message has to be sent that university is not the only option after high school.
Colleges and the skilled trades are excellent alternatives that should be considered.
The skilled trades programs at ?cole secondaire catholique Th‚riault were cited as a positive development. All Grade 9 students take compulsory skilled trades courses in such areas as computer-assisted design, welding and woodworking in state-of-the-art labs. This exposure causes many to look at the skilled trades fields in a new light.
Some participants said each high school could specialize in certain areas and students could take courses at more than one high school. A high school guidance counsellor spoke about the challenge of getting information to students, a point echoed by a Northern College recruiter.
The group consensus was that e-mail is the way to reach young people. Every participant had an e-mail address and they all said they check e-mail daily.
Electronic newsletters sent out by guidance departments could highlight information sessions coming up from various colleges, universities and employers and that would ensure that all students received the information. Some suggested that parents be included in this message delivery system along with graduates who left the city for post-secondary education or employment.
One student mentioned a presentation from McMaster University that everyone was instructed to attend, but she said she didn't even know Northern College had been in her school to make a presentation.
All agreed that career fairs should target younger audiences, starting at Grade 7. They said it's too late by Grade 12 as most students by then have decided when, where and if they are going to continue their education.
They said younger students should have class tours of local industry to inform them at an early age about local opportunities and make them proud to live in Timmins.
Large employers in the city were criticized for not attending the workshop and for always asking for experienced workers when they advertise jobs. Participants asked why companies can't take young people and train them on the job?
The mining industry should get out the message that all its employees are not miners, participants said.
They said mining companies employ office staff, human resources professionals, Information Technology specialists, etc. but that is not generally known. They said they should come into classrooms to talk to students, not simply leave information with guidance departments.
The fact that Northern College has no varsity athletics program was mentioned as a negative because it fails to attract student athletes interested in pursuing sports and misses an opportunity to create school spirit. Participants said Canadore College in North Bay and Cambrian College in Sudbury have varsity teams and Northern could join those leagues.
Participants were hopeful that the Ontario North East University concept now being studied in Timmins would result in making more university programs available in the city.
One round table group noted that although Timmins is a multicultural city there appears to be a divide between French and English.
They said that isolation starts at a very early age, when school buses are segregated by language and religion. They said integrating the school buses would be a major step forward.
They said schools should host multicultural events and invite students from other schools to attend.
Student voluntarism was cited as a positive development and an O'Gorman High School student noted her school recognizes those students who volunteer above and beyond the 40-hour school requirement.
Don Curry, president of Bay Consulting and CEO of Young People's Press in North Bay, was the workshop facilitator.
This Canada Day, the Dominion Institute is launching 2020: Voices on Canada's Future; a four month public dialogue to discover what Canadians think will be the single most important issue facing the country in the year 2020. Visit http://www.twenty-twenty.ca for more information.
One of the topics of interest is Aboriginal Issues at http://www.twenty-twenty.ca/topic_autochtones.phtml ... so now is the time to share your thoughts about what Canada might look like in 2020. The question asked "What does the future hold for Canada's Aboriginal people?"
Other questions include:
The CBC and the Dominion Institute have invited 20 leading thinkers to comment on the single issue or event that they think could transform Canada by 2020.
CBC.ca will post the essays online as they are released over the next six months. Coverage on CBC-TV and CBC Radio includes interviews, commentary and mini-documentaries on the ideas raised by each of the thinkers.
Canada in 2020 is an initiative of Dominion Institute in association with La Presse, the Toronto Star and the CBC.
Add your voice to the debate and compete for a $2,020 prize, visit Canada in 2020.
Check out CBC Online coverage of this opportunity to share your views ... visit "Project asks Canadians to imagine 2020" - June 30, 2006 at http://www.cbc.ca/story/canada/national/2006/06/30/canada2020.html