2016 Canada Conference
The seven Canadian chapters held their annual CanCon from June 10th to 12th in Vancouver, hosted by the JETAA British Columbia and Yukon chapter.
There were the usual Consular and CLAIR receptions, along with reports on chapter activities, predeparture orientations, ideas for engaging with members, a proposal to change the selection process for the Country Rep, tips on how to host a conference, and discussion of cross-border collaborative opportunities.
There was also dragonboating. For the full report, see JETAABC's Facebook page, which has several photos and videos. It was an awesome experience, and unique in the history of North American conferences. Members of the British Columbia and Yukon chapter have been active in dragonboating for many years, as have alumni across Canada and the US, and the BC chapter reported at the conference there 12 years ago about how effective they found their dragonboat team to be in promoting not only their chapter but also the JET Programme itself. This chance for the conference participants to experience it for themselves very effectively demonstrated the team-building benefit that the BC members were also touting.
Another highlight of the conference was the fact that two of the three US Country Reps were able to attend as part of an effort in recent years to improve inter-chapter information exchange and better support cross-border events, usually involving US and Canadian chapters within relatively easy driving distance of the border. This also allowed participants to get a better understanding of how the two countries are organized at the national level, the challenges facing their respective chapters - most of which are fundamentally similar - and how the various chapters have worked to address these. In sessions on topics such as organizing predeparture orientations and engaging with JETs throughout their experience, from the time they are accepted on the Programme to the time they're sending their grandchildren on it (which still has not happened, to the best of my knowledge, but...), the Canadian participants were able to hear ideas from the 19 US chapters, while the Americans were able to learn about successful initiatives such as Montreal's multiple PDOs and Ottawa's 'letter to yourself' that they have departing JETs write so the chapter can send it to them later, helping reinforce the connection that will, hopefully, lead the JET to seek out the chapter and get involved after they come home.
The BC chapter were wonderful hosts, all the participants contributed actively to the discussions and seemed to come away with new insight and new ideas to take home with them, and everyone had a very productive and enjoyable weekend. Our thanks and a big Otsukaresama to everyone in Vancouver!