2017 Graduation & End of Year Ceremony

Among the many amazing things about a YMCA Academy graduation, the one that stands out for me is the sense of shared celebration. We are members of a close and inclusive community of learners, who support one another socially and academically. Many of our students come to the school with little hope of success based on their experience within the education system; in their admissions interviews with me prior to enrolment, many of their parents and guardians express their sense of hopelessness for their children’s academic and life success.

So, the sense of celebration, of having achieved beyond their expectations, of heading off to new challenges well-equipped for success — this is what is behind the entirely positive vibe of the night! The fact that this was our largest graduating class to date only added to the energy of the evening.

Each member of The Academy is fully invested in the success of our students, and we all experience with them the sense of accomplishment and excitement for what comes next. That this is a shared experience is clear from every conversation I have that evening. It’s clear as well from what was shared on various social media.

Have a look here:

I am so proud of my youngest daughter Emma. In spite of all the challenges the world through at her, she persevered and…
Posted by Ben Mair on Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Such an amazing Graduation Evening last night. Many thanks to Don Adams, the teachers, and staff. YMCA Academy is a…
Posted by Jules Steele Clyde on Thursday, June 29, 2017

As we move into a new academic year, I keep the graduation in my mind as motivation. See you next year!

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Youth Exchange Canada: Haida Gwaii – Day Five

On Friday, our last day, we went surfing and swimming in the Pacific Ocean. The wetsuits were very hard to get on. Before we went in the water, we got instructions from the surfers. The water was cold and when you go underwater, you get salt in your eyes. Surfing was hard to do because it was hard to control the board. It was hard to get back to shore because the waves made it hard to control, but we had fun trying out this new experience.

After surfing, on the way back to Skidegate in Kim’s car, we drove to Crow’s Nest to buy a couple of snacks. Then some of us went back to our cabins to get ready for the potluck dinner while others did some shopping for souvenirs. We met at the Living and Learning school to have some free time before eating. We enjoyed food from our Haida friends including lots of fresh fish. We were surprised when Denise and her students presented us with the war canoe paddle that we had worked on earlier in the week and was now painted and signed by our friends.

We had an amazing time doing the traditional Haida dances with the beautiful view of the ocean behind us. It was upsetting, but it was time for us to say goodbye to our YMCA youth exchange friends. Overall we had a great experience and hope one day we can go back to visit Haida Gwaii.

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Blog written by: Liam and Spencer

Youth Exchange Canada: Haida Gwaii – Day Four

On the Thursday we were in Haida Gwaii we were preparing for an overnight trip in a cabin on North Beach. To get there we had to drive which allowed us to get a beautiful view of the coastline. Before we made the long ride up to where we were staying we stopped to visit a farm owned by one of our hosts families. We got to see chickens, turkeys and very cute baby bunnies that were super, super adorable. We eventually had to leave the farm and continue on our way.

When we arrived at the lodge we were surprised that we were all staying in one big building with lots of rooms. It had a fireplace, lounge and large kitchen. After settling into the lodge we went on a hike up Tow Hill. The hike was not too long, it took about 45 mins. We got to the top of the hill to look out then we went down to go to the Blowhole to walk around to take pictures. Then we went back to our cabins and we played games and then we watched a movie after we had dinner.

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Blog written by: Evan and Alex

Youth Exchange Canada: Haida Gwaii – Day Three

On Wednesday we got to help out and volunteer for different activities. Some of us got to help out at an animal shelter petting feral cats, helping painting a picnic table, selling cookies and raising money for Cancer research, cleaning out a church and Jake, Kaili and I helped out with the elders. We got to help out put out lunch for them. We got to play Bananagrams and they are really good at it. It was really nice to get to talk to some of them and learn how long they have been in Haida Gwaii and to get to experience the language they speak. I donated sweet grass to them. I got it from up in my cottage in Haliburton. A close friend of ours who is Mohawk, picked it and braided it. They were so thankful and happy and we all took a big picture.

Once we had finished our volunteer activities, we went to the Haida Heritage Center to learn about and try to paddle a war Canoe. The canoe was made out of fiberglass and was paddled to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. The first task was to roll the Canoe into the Ocean. It took all of us to lift the 1500 lb canoe (it was this heavy because there was water that had seeped between the two layers of fiberglass) and get it down to the water. Twenty people at a time got to go out on the canoe. We had to paddle together and listen to our elder who was coordinating us. At first he didn’t think we could do it, but we proved him wrong. As we were paddling, there were whales near us in the water.

On Wednesday night, there were a lot of exciting events and my favorite event was archery. Archery is one of my favorite sports ever. Some of us took turns shooting some arrows at targets while others were kayaking. And then after awhile, we switched.

Jason set some crab traps earlier in the week and he went and picked them up. He brought them to the Living and Learning Center and cooked them up and set them out on a table. One of the teachers, named Rein, ate a lot of crab. At the crab fest, they gave us a very special paddle and we did a special traditional dance. With our legs burning from the dance, we said goodbye to our new friends.

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Blog written by: Jenta and John Moses

Youth Exchange Canada: Haida Gwaii – Day Two

On day 2 of the trip, The YMCA Academy students went on a boat ride to the west coast of the island. We went in the narrow waterways that leads to the the ocean for about an hour before hitting the open water. We saw a large ship which was the Coast Guard. We drove around in the open waters for a bit. We saw sea lions and got so close that we could smell them.

We landed on the beach at Ts’aahl Village for a picnic. As one of the crew cooked us a fresh salmon lunch, our guide showed us around the area, he also showed us really old totem poles. After lunch, our guide said “tide’s out, time to each” and he went scavenging in the ocean. He showed us what was edible and some of us tried a few sea creatures. After a couple hours on the beach we were off again on the boat and took a bit of a detour to show us the seals and puffins. We roamed around for a bit more before going back to the docks for dinner.

Check out more photos from this event on our Facebook page!

Blog written by: Jake and Josh