Magic in the Maritimes

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Field school showcases Canada’s East Coast

By Rachel Fournier, Contributor

Across campus, posters are slapped on lockers, advertising in big, bold print the greatness of some intense country like Australia, New Zealand, or even the USA. Because those are always the go-to destinations, right? Those countries are vast and far away and full of adventure; they’re where your Uncle Ron “totally found himself” when he was twenty.

But, I ask you, why not Canada?

At one point in time, Canada was advertised as the place to go if one was searching for somewhere vast, far away, and full of adventure. It was once a popular destination for all, but for those who’ve spent their lives here, it can easily be brushed off as a place we already know. That’s where the Maritime Field School comes in.

Last summer, I had the opportunity to join a group of Douglas College students and travel to the Maritimes for an incredible chance to understand the history of where I come from. It was an opportunity to explore my own backyard, and learn about the people who made this country what it is today. And, if that wasn’t enough, this trip provided a unique chance to experience it all with a group of likeminded students.

It ended up being better than I could have imagined, a full seven weeks jam-packed with studying and remarkable memories. Our group quickly became close and we investigated history-brimmed Halifax very thoroughly: pubs, museums and exhibits, performances, more pubs—you name it, we were avid visitors of it.

One night, we visited a concert by the Men of the Deeps, a group of ex-miners who decided to form a choir. Each member had been a miner for at least a couple of years. Many of the songs we heard were written by the members themselves, most referring to the hardships of mining. The singing and accompaniment was beautiful.

Choral music wasn’t the only thing we got to enjoy. We went to Irish sessions down at the Old Triangle Pub where we listened to and recreated the music of the indigenous Mi’kmaq people. The Maritimes are a whirlpool of musical diversity, and we were lucky enough to experience the whole spectrum.

We were also able to fully immerse ourselves in the love that Canada has for a fictitious society-defying girl named Anne Shirley. In Eastern Canada, Anne of Green Gables is a trademark, and a big source of pride. They are very proud of L.M. Montgomery and the spotlight she cast on PEI, where the book is set. It isn’t surprising, though, since reading about Anne and the struggles she faced as a strong, independent woman was empowering and eye-opening. Visiting PEI’s well-rounded beauty in person was pretty nice too.

Whether it was as simple as a movie night and homemade pancakes, or as crazy as climbing down an old mine shaft, we greeted every adventure with an open mind. We had countless opportunities to speak with influential people, like inspiring poet and activist El Jones, as well as to take part in interesting organizations, like the Dalhousie University radio station.

Eastern Canada opened my eyes to a whole other world, one where jaywalking is greeted with a smile from drivers and everywhere you need to go is a quick bus ride away.

This incredible trip gave me a new appreciation for both my country and myself.

Are you interested in going on the Maritime Field School?

Then come by an information session for the 2016 field school at the New Westminster campus (Room 1614 at 3:30 p.m. on October 2) or the Coquitlam campus (Room A1130 at 4:30 p.m. on October 7).

Music instructor Hazel Fairbairn, English instructor Jasmine Nicholsfigueirdo, and art instructor Christine Dewar will give an overview presentation of the courses and excursions involved in the Maritime Field School. Application forms will be available at the information sessions.

For more information on the Maritime Field School, check out