2018 La Loche Toronto Visit Recap

It was just over a year ago to the date, that students from the grief-stricken town of La Loche, Saskatchewan arrived in Toronto. After a personal visit to Dene High School by Masai Ujiri and Marci Ien, the students were invited to Toronto for a weekend of exploration and inspiration. This weekend, Toronto welcomed 15 new students in the second instalment of this impactful event.

Day One began on Friday morning at George Brown College in Toronto’s east end. The students were treated to culinary lessons and demonstrations by Chef David Wolfman. The renowned Chef Wolfman shared his experiences and proud Indigenous history and culture, all the while cooking up a big meal for the class and sharing tips and tricks of the trade.

After lunch, the students made their way over to Ryerson University for the Presentation of the Truth and Reconciliation Community Consultation Report. The afternoon began with a Peace Song, presentation of the Star Blanket, and the Honour Song led by Hand Drummers. These Indigenous Ceremonial Components, along with powerful speeches by various speakers made for a remarkable presentation. The celebration spoke of equity and community inclusion, and a summary of the goals set out by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Later that night, the students watched the Toronto Raptors take on the Utah Jazz in the first ‘Welcome Toronto’ night, in collaboration with OVO and the Raptors. Before the game, they were met by Masai Ujiri who shared heartfelt and welcoming thoughts before taking a group photo at centre court.

 

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Saturday morning began at the Science Discovery Zone at Ryerson University. Third and Fifth year biochemistry students amazed the class with various experiments and demonstrations. They used science to make their own ice cream, and turned pennies from bronze to silver and gold. Students then learned the mechanics of Virtual Reality, and even had the opportunity to test out a number of VR scenarios themselves!

The afternoon was all about visiting Toronto hottest tour spots. After a photo-op in front of the infamous Canada sign, the students made their way up the speedy elevator ride of the CN Tower. The brisk winds didn’t stop them from enjoying the full 360 tour over 1,400 feet above the city. After that, the students made their way over to Ripley’s Aquarium. They were amazed by all the unique sea creatures and beautiful colours and imagery found in the aquarium. They strolled in awe throughout the Rainbow Reef, Ray Bay, and Planet Jellies, just to name a few.

Day two culminated in a team dinner and night walk in the city. They explored Dundas Square and Toronto’s Chinatown. They also took in their first commuter experience by riding the TTC subway line!

 

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In advance of the Toronto Raptors vs. LA Lakers game on Sunday night, the class was invited to attend and watch the pregame shoot-around. Sitting front row in court side seats, the students watched both the Raptors and Lakers partake in their pregame routines. They even got high fives and took selfies with some of the players during the warmup.

After an exciting first half of basketball, the students were escorted through the Raptors tunnel into the dressing room for an exclusive tour. They were joined again by Masai Ujiri who shared powerful words of wisdom, and reminding them that they will forever be in his heart. One last group shot, with everyone in embrace under the Toronto Raptors Basketball sign, marks the cherry on top of an unforgettable, inspirational, never-to-be-forgotten weekend.