Next Generation: Youth Voyage West (Eight Students Travel by Bus from Toronto to Canadian Institute of International Affairs 1997 National Foreign Policy Conference in Regina)

By Graham, Jessica | Behind the Headlines, Autumn 1997 | Go to article overview

Next Generation: Youth Voyage West (Eight Students Travel by Bus from Toronto to Canadian Institute of International Affairs 1997 National Foreign Policy Conference in Regina)


Graham, Jessica, Behind the Headlines


On Wednesday, 1 October at midnight, a bus set out from the headquarters of the Canadian Institute of International Affairs (CIIA) in Toronto, Ontario, bound for the Institute's 1997 National Foreign Policy Conference, Canada and the Asia-Pacific: Linking the Links, held in Regina, Saskatchewan from 3-5 October. Little did I know that the trip, and the events at its destination, would exceed both my expectations and those of the participants. We called the trip the Youth Voyage West; altogether, that bus traveled 6000 kilometres in six days. Many of us saw northern Ontario for the first time from its windows, not to mention the prairielands of southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan. What follows is an account of the trip and the students' experiences along the way.

The eight students from Toronto who undertook the trip began to get to know one another before settling down to sleep on the overnight leg of the trip from Toronto to Sault Ste. Marie. The schedule on the way to Thunder Bay relaxed sufficiently that when we stopped in Terrace Bay for snacks, and found out that a nearby river gorge was accessible by trail, we decided to go for a hike. The trail offered stunning views of the river's banks and waterfalls; after about 45 minutes, we arrived at the shore of Lake Superior. We sat on the beach, dabbled our toes in the water, and had a picnic. The weather was superb and the landscape breathtaking.

One student said, in an understated way, `I never knew that it was so pretty up here.' The northern Ontarian Trans-Canada highway passes several provincial parks, small towns and countless outlooks over the interior and the Great Lakes. This time of year is undoubtedly the best in which to travel; the sheer, looming hills of the Canadian Shield are made even more beautiful by the autumn colours.

We arrived in Thunder Bay at 6 p.m. on Thursday, 2 October, where we picked up four more students, had dinner at the campus pub and went for a shower at the Lakehead University gym facilities. The Lakeheaders were in great spirits and brought with them a bag full of movies. We settled down to chat, read, and watch the tube until all slept their way through Kenora, Dryden, and eastern Manitoba.

Winnipeg was briskly cold upon arrival at 5 a.m. on Friday. Soon after, the Ontarians went for breakfast and the Manitobans, all 20 of them, got on the bus. Along for the ride were Ruth and Anne Loutit, two erudite and well-traveled octogenarian sisters who have been members of the Institute since it was founded. They seemed to enjoy the company of `us youngsters,' although our choice in movies didn't thrill them. We stopped in Grenfell, Saskatchewan, for lunch, where it seemed we were the event of the week; Grenfell consists of a main street and a grain silo, but has a restaurant which could feed all 34 of us in an hour. Conversation ground to a halt and all eyes were on us as we made our way inside for a good, quick lunch prepared by an exceedingly grateful restaurant owner.

As we made our way past harvestshorn fields, under immense prairie skies, students read conference material, networked, and talked all the way to Regina, where we arrived at 3:30. We checked into the Travelodge and took a few hours to regroup and rest until the conference began at 6:00 at the University of Regina. The opening evening programme featured the Premier of Saskatchewan, Roy Romanow. The University of Regina Chamber Choir, winners of the World Chamber Music festival this year in Llangollen, Wales, delighted the delegates with an exquisite international programme of madrigals and folk-songs.

Canada and the Asia Pacific: Linking the Links began in earnest the next day at 8:30 a.m. Among the highlights was a presentation on the interaction of governmental policy, human rights, and international trade in the Asia Pacific by the Right Honourable Joe Clark, for which Pamela Wallin provided an incisive and heartfelt introduction. …

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