Exchanges

Exchanges

Experiences Canada offers reciprocal youth exchanges for participants between the ages of 12-17 years old. Each exchange is made up of groups of 10-30 youth. By exploring another community, youth strengthen their second language, develop cultural awareness, break down social barriers, create friendships and improve self-confidence. Youth Exchanges Canada facilitates enriching educational exchanges that enhance learning and give participants an experience that lasts a lifetime. Join the 5,000 youth who participate in the Experiences Canada youth exchange program each year.

Please note that all participants must be new to the exchange program.

Sports Exchanges

Experiences Canada funds travel for sport teams across Canada to promote physical activity and connect young athletes across the country. During a sports-themed exchange participants engage in their sport as well as learn about the history and heritage of Canada and develop an appreciation for Canada’s regional diversity.

Organizer Testimonial

What an amazing experience and opportunity this has become for all the kids & adults alike. Fostering friendships, knowledge & understanding all through the love of Canada’s game HOCKEY.

-– Todd Herold (Hockey exchange)

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 and 7
  • Travel
Day 2
  • Walking tour of Gastown in Vancouver
  • Soccer practice
Day 3
  • Tour of UBC
  • Visit Museum of Anthropology
Day 4
  • Walking tour of Granville Island
Day 5
  • Rent bikes and tour Stanley Park
  • BC Royal Museum
  • Hike in Deep Cove area
Day 6
  • Visit the Burrard Inlet and Rocky Point area
  • Soccer game

Immigration Exchanges

Experiences Canada has partnered with the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 to offer a truly memorable experience! Youth will visit specific sites around Halifax and throughout the province where they will learn first-hand how different organizations work to address these issues with respect and dignity. Participants will take part in a wrap-up discussion reflecting on what they learned and experienced in Halifax and implementing an action plan for an event or activity that they could undertake during the second half of their exchange. In the months that pass between travel periods, the groups will carry on virtually, exploring this dialogue with a blog or vlog! Participants will explore the twin group’s community and put their plan in action!

THINK: celebrating diversity through a community arts exposition, taking cooking classes and learning about different cuisines, volunteering at an immigrant resettlement centre or teaching English/French to newcomers.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 & 7
  • Travel days
Day 2
  • Harbour Hopper Tour
  • Board Room Games
  • Visit Pier 21 Museum
Day 3
  • Boat Rowing
  • Lunch at waterfront
  • Maritime Museum
Day 4
  • Fairview Lawn Cemetery-visit graves of those passed away in sinking of the Titanic
  • Ross Creek Center
Day 5
  • Mik’maw Art Workshop
  • Visit to Grand Pré
Day 6
  • Peggy’s Cove
  • Halifax Shopping for souvenirs

Human rights Exchanges

Experiences Canada has partnered with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to offer a truly memorable experience. Youth will visit specific sites around Winnipeg, where they will learn first-hand how different organizations work to advance human rights and address inequalities with respect and dignity. Participants will take part in a wrap-up discussion reflecting on what they learned and experienced in Winnipeg and implementing an action plan towards the second half of their exchange. In the months that pass between travel periods, the groups will carry on virtually, exploring this dialogue with a blog or vlog! Participants will explore the twin group’s community and put their plan in action!

THINK: fundraiser for a charity, organizing a school or community awareness event, an anti-bullying rally or volunteering at a local food bank.

Organizer Testimonial

On Monday morning we went by coach to Winnipeg – the main focus of our trip was a visit to the Human Rights Museum, a work shift at Winnipeg Harvest and a visit to the Indigenous Center. We rounded that out with an activity at The Real Escape and some play the Sky Zone Trampoline Park. I think as a group we enjoyed showing off our province – we as Manitobans are quite proud of our beautiful new museum and while many of my students had been there, it was new to some too. The Winnipeg Harvest, the Human Rights Museum, and the Indigenous Center made for a nice package and added a lot of substance to our week in Manitoba.

-Group Organizer

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 & 7
  • Travel days, some include welcome potluck.
Day 2
  • Riding Mountain National Park
Day 3
  • Life and Arts Center
  • Traditional Prairie Meal
  • Ukrainian Dancers
Day 4
  • Winnipeg Harvest
  • Manitoba Indigenous and Cultural Education Center
Day 5
  • Human Rights Museum
Day 6
  • Tour of the Mint
  • Walking tour of the Forks

Indigenous exchanges

Experiences Canada funds youth exchanges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities as well as Indigenous groups to other Indigenous groups. These culturally enriching exchanges provide youth with an opportunity to share their culture, language and traditions while enhancing their pride and respect for their community.

Organizer Testimonial

I think one of the most important reasons for youth from the North to participate in an exchange is that it gives us the opportunity to educate other young Canadians about what it’s truly like to live in the Arctic. For me, being able to connect with people from a totally different place was so amazing, and an experience I’ll never forget.

-Killaq Enuaraq-Strauss, participant

Sample Itinerary

B.C.

Day 1 & 7 • Travel days, some include welcome potlucks
Day 2 • Hike the Burnt Bridge Loop Trail
Day 3 • Hot Springs
Day 4 • Language and Traditional Food Workshop
Day 5 • Petroglyphs and Waterfall
Day 6 • Potlatch

Northwest Territories

Day 1 & 7 • Travel days
Day 2 • Dinner and sharing circle
Day 3 • dog sledding • ice fishing • drying fish • checking snars
Day 4 • Beading with Elders • Sliding
Day 5 • Snowshoeing • Youth Outdoor Event • Drum Dance
Day 6 • Trapping camp

Nunavut

Day 1 & 7 • Travel days
Day 2 • Walking tour • Visit with local artists
Day 3 • Day on the land-ice fishing arctic char
Day 4 • Traditional Inuit games • cross country skiing • igloo making
Day 5 • Carving demonstration • Hike • Sewing/beading, scraping sealskin
Day 6 • Throat singing and Drum dance

Linguistic Exchanges

Linguistic exchanges provide youth with an opportunity to strengthen their second language by involving them in another community and immersing in the culture. Second-language exchanges make up half of all Experiences Canada youth exchanges. Participants not only gain the confidence to use their second language, but they realize the importance of being skilled in both of Canada’s official languages. Whether your group is learning French or English, Experiences Canada will develop an exchange experience where youth are immersed in their second language.

Organizer Testimonial

My experience inspired me to learn more about Canada’s history and sparked a further interest in continuing my studies in French, my second language.

-Alexa Young, participant

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 & 7
  • Travel days
Day 2
  • Maison de la Découverte
  • Terrasse Dufferin
  • Château Frontenac
Day 3
  • Plains of Abraham
  • Walking Tour of Quebec City
Day 4
  • Village Valcartier
Day 5
  • Dog Sledding
  • Sugar Bush visit and meal
Day 6
  • Family Time

Program Advisory Council

The purpose of the Program Advisory Council is to provide input and advice on issues relevant to all current programs and those in development. The advisory council will provide a forum for educations and community leader to discuss ideas, opportunities, concerns and best practices.

Program Advisory Council members will have the following qualifications:
  • Be currently teaching or working/volunteering with youth aged 12-17, or be retired from teaching.
  • Have experience in creating activity plans, curriculum correlations, and other educational resources.
  • Bilingualism is an asset as most of our meetings will include both French and English representatives.
Experiences Canada Program Advisory Council members will:
  • Believe in the vision and mission of Experiences Canada.
  • Be willing and able to devote time and energy to attend quarterly phone calls.
  • Be capable of thinking, speaking and acting independently on behalf of Experiences Canada at teacher and community conferences, school board meetings or other presentations that Experiences Canada might be invited to attend.
  • Promote the Youth Exchange Program and other initiatives of Experiences Canada and actively implement recruitment strategies in each respective province/territory.
  • Provide feedback to assist staff with program improvements.

If you are interested in staying involved and joining PAC please submit the online application.

Apply to join PAC

Ask Jamie a question OR you can just her send a nice comment!

What we fund

  • Travel is Free!
  • Air, bus and train costs are funded by the Department of Canadian Heritage;
  • Airport transfers are funded

What does it Cost?

  • A membership fee of $100 per group is required upon application
  • A registration fee per person is required once the group has accepted the funding
  • Hosting Activities-all costs associated with hosting your twin (bussing, admission costs, food, activities)

Special Measures

In order to support the inclusion of all youth in the Experiences Canada Exchange Programs, and reduce barriers to participation, Experiences Canada will make available additional limited Special Measures funding.

Special Measures will specifically support;

  • The inclusion of youth with disabilities and other special needs, including expenses related to the support of special care attendants, interpreters.
  • Youth from low-income households.
  • Support of additional Chaperones as required.
  • Alternative housing for common stay arrangements.
  • Youth from rural, isolated or marginalized areas.
  • Other requests approved on a case-by-case basis

Each year, group organizers apply for additional funding by submitting a “Special Measures” request form to their Experiences Canada coordinator along with their exchange budget. We encourage groups to fundraise as much as possible to help towards their special measures request, as funding is very limited.

FAQ

What if I have other questions?

Experiences Canada staff are available Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm (Eastern Standard Time) to answer any and all of your questions.

What is an Experiences Canada Exchange?

An Experiences Canada Exchange is a reciprocal, homestay exchange between two groups of Canadian youth, each in a different part of Canada. Experiences Canada exchanges are enriching, enhance learning and give participants an experience that lasts a lifetime.

How do I know if I am eligible to apply?

The Experiences Canada Exchanges program is accessible to groups of youth comprised of a minimum of ten participants from a school or recognized community organization. The youth must be Canadian citizens, landed immigrants or have refugee status in Canada.

What if I am an international student?

International and visiting students can participate in our exchanges; however, the group must cover their costs.

How old are the youth that participate?

Experiences Canada Exchanges are designed for youth between the ages of 12 and 17 years.

How long is an exchange?

Exchanges are typically 7 to 10 days for each group (including 2 days of allotted travel time).

Where can I travel on an exchange?

Anywhere in Canada! Experiences Canada is active in all Canadian provinces and territories. Groups can request a specific destination or let our staff recommend one.

When does our group travel and host?

Exchanges can take place any time of the year. Once approved for funding, the two groups discuss and agree on travel and hosting dates. Experiences Canada will then coordinate the travel arrangements.

Do students miss school?

Yes, depending on the travel and hosting weeks, students could miss school. However, Experiences Canada, participating schools, and community associations recognize that experiential learning is a valuable complement to the school setting.

How do I apply for an exchange?

Applications are completed and submitted on-line at by the Group Organizer.

When is the deadline to apply for an exchange?

There is no deadline – Group Organizers can apply at any time during the year. We do suggest applying at least 4 months prior to your intended travel dates.

When will I know if my application is accepted?

As soon as you submit an application online, you will receive an automated e-mail acknowledging receipt of your application. Generally, groups applying for a summer exchange are advised of their funding approval in early March. Groups applying for a school-year exchange are advised of their funding approval in early September.

Does Experiences Canada provide any kind of training to Group Organizers?

Experiences Canada provides on-going support and guidance throughout the exchange planning process. Once the groups have accepted their proposed twin group, Experiences Canada also coordinates a comprehensive orientation conference call with both group organizers to help you successfully plan your exchange. A detailed Group Organizer Handbook and how-to videos further ensure that Group Organizers are well versed in what it takes to have a successful exchange.

How much will an exchange cost and who pays these costs?

Each group pays a membership fee upon submitting an application, and then a per participant registration fee once an exchange has been approved and confirmed. The travel costs between community airports are paid for by Experiences Canada with funding from Exchanges Canada at the Department of Canadian Heritage. Participants are, however, liable for the full price of the ticket if they cancel and the group is not able to find a replacement up to 1 week prior to scheduled travel. In such cases, Experiences Canada will invoice the participant. The cost of local activities and excursions during the exchange is paid for by the groups through self-financing. The average cost per youth varies from $300-$500 depending on the activities and excursions chosen. Many groups organize fundraising events to help cover the cost of activities and local transportation when hosting their twin group.

What kinds of activities are involved?

The types of activities you do with your twin group should generally reflect the local culture, community, and history of where your group is located. Current guidelines from Canadian Heritage require that a minimum of 30% of each exchange week’s activities be historical or heritage related. Additional activities may reflect specific thematic exchanges and can be organized accordingly for music, sports, leadership, outdoor education, anti-bullying discussions, and more. In collaboration with the twin group organizer, each group designs a hosting week program that shows off their own community and meets the objectives of each group’s exchange learning plan and Canadian Heritage’s guidelines. Please note that all participants in both groups must participate in all activities during both halves of the exchange.

Who chooses the participants who get to go on the exchange?

Each group chooses their own participants. Groups may consist of students in an existing school class or youth from a community association such as dance troupes, music clubs, sports teams, Scouts, Girl Guides, Boys and Girls Clubs, and others.

Who arranges the travel and how do we get to our destination?

Experiences Canada pays for and arranges your group’s travel by airplane, train or coach based on your requested dates. Experiences Canada will also arrange the airport transfer buses if your school is located 100 km or farther from the nearest airport. Groups who are closer to the airport organize their own airport transfers; however, Experiences Canada will reimburse them for this cost upon presentation of official invoices.

Where do we stay when we visit our twin group?

Experiences Canada exchanges are intended to be a reciprocal, homestay experience. Each youth participant is billeted in his or her selected twin’s home; likewise, adult chaperones are expected to host each other. If there are circumstances in which a group is unable to billet in homes, either for cultural, space and/or safety and security reasons, it is possible to request and plan a common stay arrangement.

What kind of insurance do I need to get?

All Experiences Canada participants are covered by a group accident insurance plan during the two weeks of their exchange. Travel or cancellation insurance, which includes emergency hospital/medical insurance, is not part of Experiences Canada’s plan however it can be purchased directly from our travel provider, or through family plans or independent insurance providers.

What if I have youth that have special needs?

We strongly believe that all youth should have equal access to participation in Experiences Canada Exchanges. As such we provide limited funding to support the inclusion of youth with special needs or disabilities, from low-income households, rural or isolated areas and other needs on a case-by-case basis.

How can youth be more involved in exchanges?

We encourage Group Organizers to engage youth participants in the planning of their exchange experience. It is a great opportunity to get youth to stop and think about what makes their own community special, and what they’d like to showcase to others. Each exchange group is also asked to identify a youth to act as Youth Ambassador to work with Experiences Canada staff to help document their exchange experience through social media, and in the Experiences Canada annual digital yearbook. If you are interested in this role you should talk to your Group Organizer.

What’s involved in an exchange?