During the first week of February, a group of Heritage Woods French students took their learning to a whole new level. They explored and experienced the province of Quebec's culture, history, and language. During this expedition, students and teachers were given the opportunity to practise and improve their French in a more practical environment. Students explored the old capital, more commonly known as Quebec City, as well as the unique cultural intersection that is Montreal. Separatist political pursuits have in the past, divided Canadians; However, this trip allowed students to connect with the hidden culture of Quebec and as well as Canada as a whole. This trip was accompanied by wind burned cheeks, frostbitten toes, snowy shakes, and unforgettable experiences.
Students sucked every drop of knowledge out of this trip. While experiencing all the traditional Quebec activities, they were also submerged in the rich history of Quebec. The students first stop, was on the Plaines of Abraham; The location of one of the most significant battles in North American history. The battle took place in 1759 between the British and French armies over control of the capital. Due to its geographical location on the St. Lawrence River, Quebec became the first capital of what would eventually be known as Canada, making the small city a major military target. The British invaded the French controlled city winning the battle by use of bizarre, a unique military technique. The new British control and innovation had a major influence on how the city developed into what it is today. When students explored Quebec City on a walking tour, they learned about its history and the cultural impact these events had. The first European explorer to "discover" Quebec was Jacques Cartier, a French explorer originally attemptiMXLLS📷📷ng to discover China. Primarily, poor Europeans began immigrating to the new-found world, many dying in the difficult transition. After the battle of the Plains of Abraham, people began to lose their connection to their French origins; They became more connected to the British. When disputes began over this cultural change, many Quebec people protested their assimilation into British culture. This turmoil resulted in the beautiful French-inspired design of the Chateau Frontenac. The famous hotel and landmark that overlooks the St. Lawrence river symbolize not only Quebec, but the French roots within Canada itself. Students were given the opportunity to learn about the more interesting and less commonly acknowledged history of Canada. Quebec represents a deep amount of patriotism and pride that was deeply beneficial to students learning as well as identity.
Students were incredibly lucky to experience the many elements of Carnaval. The annual festival is full of parades, events, and live entertainment. The festival is famous in Quebec for its extravagant entertainment and mascot Bonhomme, but it actually a more worldwide celebration. Originating from the Christian tradition of the ceremonial sacrifice of pleasure, Carnaval celebrates the final days of celebration and joy. This celebration has evolved over the years and through different cultural lenses, but despite this, it remains a major annual holiday. Carnaval is most famously celebrated in Brazil. The final day of Carnaval lands on a Tuesday, or Mardi in French. This is of course where the name Mardi Gras originated from. Students were especially lucky to arrive in Quebec on the first day of Carnaval, being immediately swallowed by the ecstatic energy of the festival.
Students experienced a wide range of other unique activities during the trip: visiting the famous Ice Hotel (or Hotel de Glace). Made of 3,000 tons of snow and ice, rebuilt in the time of 55 days every year. This structural feat is an important visit on any trip to Quebec. Along with extravagant structures and carving of clear ice, the hotel has halls of themed rooms for guests. The hotel houses hundreds of guests each day. On the other hand, the west coast students found the Quebec temperature to be cold enough without sleeping on a bed of ice, so they skipped out on the overnight stay. Students spent the rest of the day racing down the repurposed water park on snow tubes, then later visited a traditional sugar shack. They learned about the traditional custom of creating maple syrup invented by the aboriginal people who were the true founders of Quebec. Other highlights included touring the beautiful McGill campus in Montreal, eating traditional poutine, visiting the Notre Dame church, and of course, shopping in the beautiful upper and lower town of old Quebec.
After 5 days of non-stop exploration and education, students returned to the not so warm B.C. It is thanks to the welcoming tour guide that Students were immersed in the Quebec culture so deeply within such a short time. It is impossible to walk down a street without being overwhelmed by the history pumping through the veins of the city. The realm of culture right under our noses is worth examining and experiencing. The trip was both fun and enjoyable but also eye-opening. Students left with unforgettable memories and frozen fingers. If the trip runs again in the years to come, students should not skip out on it. Quebec is like nothing else you will ever experience.