Tiffany Harrington, Cégep de Jonquière
Ontario to Quebec
My mother’s family comes from this quaint little town in northern Quebec called Alma (20 minutes from Jonquière). Her father had originally come from there before moving to Toronto, where he raised his family. I got my first taste of real northern Quebec in the summer of Grade 5 and quickly made it my second home. So when I heard about a program — in my Grade 11 year — put on by the government that would let me stay in this little piece of heaven for an entire five weeks, I jumped at the opportunity.
I had only ever driven through Jonquière on my way to the Chicoutimi shopping centre, but it seemed like it would be a nice town to stay in. I was ecstatic to see that I had gotten my first choice and soon began planning all the wonderful things I would do while there.... To my surprise, they literally have every moment of your day already planned for you — which at first I thought would be exhausting, but it occupies you in such a way that you are never bored.
When I arrived, my mère d’accueil (host mother) picked me up and drove me to the house I would be staying in along with five other students of the program. It turned out that she and her husband owned a gîte (bed and breakfast), and she was the best cook in town. I really recommend checking off the “host family” box, because one can only eat so much rez food (i.e., sauce blanche — if you stay in rez, you will understand!;-)). But aside from that, the host family really does become your family. I remember when my real mom and dad came to pick me up, how I just kept going from hugging my host mother to hugging my host father — continuously crying. I told my mom that I felt like I was leaving home, and that a little piece of my heart would forever stay in Jonquière. Absolutely everyone in the program felt this way when leaving.
My host family taught me so much about myself and what it means to be a Quebecer. This experience moved me so much that I have decided to go to McGill next year for university and in the future, to become québecoise. Throughout the program, I met many wonderful people — as well as my best friend. If you are at all timid about applying to the program — don’t be. I promise you it will be the best decision you will ever make and is sure to leave you with memories for years to come!!!