Mike W. Bryant
Northern News Services
The Interchange on Canadian Studies conference brought about 300 delegates, about half of them Grade 11 students and their chaperons from all over Canada, for a week-long forum on a variety of topics, including the environment, self-government, and national and regional politics.
Out of town students left Saturday, leaving Sir John and St. Patrick high school students to ponder the experience and take care of unfinished homework.
Despite the added workload, Louise Tumchewics said it was all worthwhile.
"It's great to share what we have here," said the Grade 10 Sir John student organizer. "Most of these people have never been here before," added Tumchewics.
Of particular interest to visiting delegates were issues facing the North.
Nova Scotian Luke Leslie said there is simply not enough information out there for southern students interested in Northern politics and culture.
"It was possibly the most information we got on their culture so far," said Leslie, after attending a presentation by John B. Zoe, chief negotiator for the Dogrib Treaty 11 council.
"It put a visual image to what we've been learning all week."
New Brunswick student Julie Desjardins, on the other hand, felt there wasn't enough discussion time allotted for students to digest the material.
"I think they should have more time for people to speak, and for us to ask our questions. "There wasn't enough time for us to really get it at all," said Desjardins.
NWT ICS co-ordinator John Stewart said the word he has heard from visitors to the conference, particularly the presenters and panel moderators who attended, was that they were impressed with what student delegates had to say.
"I think they were really impressed with the fact that the kids had so much background," said Stewart.
"They knew what questions were important."
Speakers invited to attend, included Senator Laurier La Pierre, Premier Stephen Kakfwi, and Nature of Things host Dr. David Suzuki.
Stewart said logistically, it has been an overwhelming week.
"We certainly stretched a lot of facilities and people to the limit," said Stewart.
"The schools were absolutely key. This conference would not have happened without (both) schools involvement."