Taking on the Canadian Capital: Ottawa Calls to Student Visitors

Jun 3, 2020

Catherine Vézina, an English teacher at the quite small de la Berge, du Chêne and de la Falaise schools within the municipality of Lotbinière, Québec, Canada, is passionate about making a difference in the lives of her students.

“We live in a very rural and disadvantaged area, where the kids don’t necessarily have access to travel,” said Vézina, who took 28 grade five and grade six students, along with three parents, on a one-day adventure to Ottawa, Ontario.

“I wanted to give them a chance to experience a trip, see what’s going on outside of their own place and speak English to English-speaking people.”

Since it was the first larger trip ever organized at the schools, Vézina wasn’t sure if the parents would be in agreement. Luckily, most were.

“Ottawa was the perfect destination for us,” Vézina said, explaining that the Canadian capital is only a five-hour drive from Lotbinière. “We could go, have fun and come back all in the same day.”

It was the first field trip for many students, prompting Vézina to organize a few fundraising activities, in conjunction with other local committees and organizations, to help lower the cost of the trip.

When it came time to plan the trip, Vézina enlisted SYTA member tour operator Voyages A+ to ensure all the details were sorted.

“They planned my whole trip,” Vézina said, noting how helpful this was since she had never been to Ottawa herself. “All I had to do is to get on the bus and follow the itinerary.”

During their trip, students had the opportunity to explore the city, with the Canadian War Museum, Parliament and the Supreme Court among the highlights.

“Students really loved the experience,” said Vézina, sharing that students were particularly impressed by the building architecture and the decorum they witnessed. “Most of the grade five students who came with me last year are coming again this year!”

As Ottawa offers an English-speaking environment in addition to an abundance of educational attractions, Vézina says she can’t wait to go back with students again to see even more than they had a chance to on their first trip, which she remembers fondly.

“It was amazing!”

Written by Sarah Suydam, Staff Writer for Teach & Travel.

This article originally appeared in the May 2020 issue of Teach & Travel.