Student had her eyes opened by trip to Ottawa

A trip to Ottawa for Weyburn student Arliss Sidloski was an eye-opening experience, she told the members of the Weyburn Rotary Club on Thursday.

Sidloski gave a power-point presentation to show what some of her days were like in the nation’s capital as part of the “Adventures in Citizenship” program, as the club provided her with the opportunity to take part in the program, and she answered questions about her experience.

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She noted that on their last day, the group of about 200 students from across Canada, from every province and territory except for the Yukon, each province chose one of their group to talk at the closing banquet about what their “take-away” was from the trip.

Asked what her “take-away” was as Weyburn’s representative, Sidloski replied, “There’s a lot of take-aways. The most memorable part, and best part for me, was participating in the Canadian citizenship ceremony, which was kind of the focus of the trip. It really brought home to me how special it is to be a Canadian.”

She noted they were able to reaffirm their citizenship as they took the same oath of allegiance as the new Canadians did at the ceremony.

Asked how her own life was impacted by this trip, Sidloski said, “I was able to see how much is out there. It really opened my eyes.”

She noted she was impressed by the visits to the schools out there, such Ottawa University and Algonquin College and said, “We saw how much more there is, even more than the U of S in Saskatoon, which is the biggest place in my world.”

One of the most memorable places to visit was the Canadian War Museum, which she very much enjoyed exploring, seeing the many tanks and guns on display with artifacts from the First and Second World Wars as well as the Korean War and peacekeeping missions.

They also had a good tour of the Parliament buildings, and as “the Ottawa club pulled some strings”, they were able to go into the House of Commons and sit in the MPs seats as the Speaker of the House, Geoff Regan, and others gave presentations about Canada’s political process.

They also had presentations by First Nations representatives, as they talked about Truth and Reconciliation, showed them some traditional dances and throat singing, and there was a demonstration of some Inuit traditional games as well. A French-Canadian presentation included some music and dances from Quebec as well.

Arliss’s father, Kevin, was not able to attend, but sent a message of thanks to the Rotary club for giving his daughter this opportunity, and her mom Heather echoed those comments.

“As the mom, I would also like to thank you. When Arliss came back, she was just bubbling over about it. She said it was so much fun being with other like-minded kids. She said, ‘When we did something, everybody participated’,” said Heather.

Arliss’s aunt, Deana Mainil, noted that Arliss was one of the first Weyburn students to take part in this national program for students, and pointed out that Arliss jumped at the chance even though she’s one of those students who’s already busy with everything she was doing at school.

“She’s a real leader in our community, so I thought she’d enjoy that experience and it would benefit her. I know she’s busy already, and there’s no one busier than Arliss. It’s always the busiest ones who volunteer for things, and that’s Arliss,” said Mainil.