Hi, my name is Jessica Andre VanLoon. I am from Tsiigehtchic, Northwest Territories, and I am 16 years old. My placement is in Ottawa, Ontario. My work placement is at a daycare working with toddlers and babies. It is nice because I want my career to be in Early Childhood Education. My host family is very nice and supportive and always asks if I’m okay which makes things better. They have 3 children that are triplets. They are super cute and we are slowly getting to know each other.
There are so many things that I find different here in the south, coming from a small community of around 160 people. It’s so big you have to take a bus to go downtown, and there are malls with so many stores. I love shopping so I am happy to have the opportunity to do so.
The culture is different, especially the food. It’s hard to get used to. I love the prices though, the fresh fruit is so cheap compared to the North.
So far we have went shopping at the Rideau Centre, and a lot of other stores. We have also eaten out at restaurants. Once we went out to watch a movie, which was a lot of fun.
I want to take this opportunity with NYA to prepare myself for college. I have two more years of high school, and then I have to think about colleges. I want to be read for it when the time comes.
I am a member of the Gwichin Regional Youth Council, which means I sit on a council and represent my community and we work together to try to find ways to keep Youth motivated and with things to do. We are working on getting a youth centre. I want to show them that there is a big world out there and that there are so many opportunities, you just have to go for it and make that change.
This trip has shown me how strong you can be and you can do whatever you put your mind to. I’m slowly learning about myself and learning to love myself. I hope that I am making my community proud, because I am the first Participant ever from Tsiigehtchic.