Morley-Canmore exchange breaks down barriers
By: Rob Alexander
| Posted: Thursday, Jun 28, 2012 06:00 am
Creating community and building relationships was the goal of a new exchange between Canmore and Morley students, and if the first two-day exchange is taken as evidence, it’s working.
As part of this exchange, an idea that flowed out of the Canmore Collegiate High School Be The Change group, which works to create a culture at the school that is an engaging, caring and safe place, 20 high school students from both communities spent a day in Canmore, followed by a day in Morley at the end of May.
Be The Change advisor and CCHS teacher Brent Bittner said the exchange came about after students began to notice a disconnect between the Canmore students and the Morley students attending CCHS.
Initially, a group of those students met over a lunch period for a conversation to open up what it is like to be a Canmore kid or a Morley kid.
“They were really powerful in terms of the honesty they showed. And we thought, why not make this bigger?” Bittner said Monday (June 25).
In Canmore, the students went rock climbing and for a bike ride around town followed by a potluck dinner, while the next day, in Morley, they took a hike up Grotto Canyon with a Stoney Nakoda elder and later raised a tipi and then had a potluck at the Morley Community School.
“The most powerful thing was the conversations between the students. I felt it was a huge success because at the end they didn’t want it to end. They were laughing and talking, making connections on Facebook. They’re calling themselves the Mor-Mores,” Bittner said.
“Ultimately the Morley kids got to see Canmore kids as friendly, unpretentious, just regular folks and we got to see the same thing. The Morley kids were friendly and inviting,” he said.
Morley Community School teacher Genevieve Soler said exchanges have proven to be valuable experiences in the past, making it an easy decision to get involved with the Canmore-Morley exchange.
“We see that as incredibly valuable experience for our kids. The idea of travelling and meeting new people and what they can learn from that exposure,” she said. “I didn’t have to think twice. If we are doing this with communities in B.C. and communities in Ontario why are we not doing this with our own neighbours?”
The benefits both teachers identified as part of an exchange between the two groups of kids, who only live about a half-hour apart, include breaking down stereotypes, boundaries and differences.
“We did have very intentional conversations about race and racism and how one feels when they are a minority or they are the majority, and it was really interesting to hear the voice of the Canmore students and I felt drew out the voice of our students as well and there was really a mutual respect and mutual honour for everyone’s voice, which was beautiful,” Soler said.