'Twins' from Alberta make life-long friends in Cornwall

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From left are Emily Brown and Madison McCormick.

CORNWALL, Ontario - Ten elementary students from Alberta were twinned with students from Sacred Heart Elementary School and “adopted” by their twin’s host family for a one week stay in Cornwall.

The Albertans hail from Byemoor and Big Valley, rural communities east of Red Deer nestled between Edmonton and Calgary.

Sacred Heart teacher Liz McGillis, liaison and organizer of the exchange, put together an itinerary that provided the Alberta students with the opportunity to learn about Canada by seeing and experiencing its history, geography and cultural diversity.

The Albertans’ one week sojourn in Cornwall included visits to Old Montreal and the Biodome, Parliament Hill and the Museum of Civilization, Thousand Islands and a scavenger hunt on Georgina Island and finally, an appreciation of the challenges and rewards of daily life in the 1860s at a visit to Upper Canada Village.

Scotiabank, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Women’s League and Optimist and Army Navy Air Force Clubs were quick to offer financial support for the student exchange while the City of Cornwall provided keepsake mementos for the Alberta students and their chaperones. The model Albertan students have become Cornwall’s newest, and perhaps youngest, city ambassadors. Funds raised were used to defray the cost of transportation for the day trips and the admission fee of the sites visited by the students.

In June, Cornwall students will reconnect with their twin and become adoptees of their respective Albertan host family. Sacred Heart’s Madison McCormick will experience life on a farm as she shares chores with Emily Brown of Big Valley. Emily’s family operates a multigrain farm and a 500-head cattle ranch. Calf cradle branding will be in full swing when Madison arrives in Big Valley.

"Madison has a really good work ethic and is ready to roll up her sleeves and help out where she can," said Madison’s father Jim. “I’m sure she’ll adapt well. It was a perfect twinning. Emily and Madison share many interests such as hockey and both love to learn.

"They’re quite compatible.”

During their exchange, Sacred Heart students will be visiting Banff, Calgary and Edmonton. The exchange is funded in part by SEVEC, a not-for-profit organization that facilitates educational exchanges within Canada through a Youth Exchanges Canada program.

The travel costs for each participant are covered by SEVEC through the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Organizations: Sacred Heart Elementary School, Museum of Civilization, Scotiabank Optimist and Army Navy Air Force Clubs Youth Exchanges Canada Department of Canadian Heritage

Geographic location: CORNWALL, Alberta, Big Valley Edmonton Calgary Canada Ontario Red Deer Old Montreal Thousand Islands Georgina Island Upper Canada Village Blessed Sacrament Catholic Women Banff

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