Some 200 children from five Toronto schools boarded a train at Union station Wednesday morning for Ottawa, where they will tour Parliament Hill as part of Black History Month.
The students from Forest Glen, Stanley, Roger Neilson, Taylor Creek and John McCrae public schools were accompanied by former Liberal MP and social justice advocate Jean Augustine, the first African-Canadian woman elected to a federal seat, as well as other prominent members of the city's black community.
The trip was hosted by The Children's Breakfast Club, based in Markham, and Via Rail, which has provided transportation for the children for the last 10 years.
"Every year it is an experience," said Vladimir Jean-Pierre, Via Rail senior manager for station operation in central Canada, just before the train departed.
"Those same butterflies I had 10 years ago, I have this morning."
Once they arrive on Parliament Hill, the students will be greeted by Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree, who represents the riding of Scarborough-Rouge Park. After a brief reception, they'll spend the day touring the Hill.
The day's activities are part of Black History Month programming. Actors role playing as notable figures in black history, including Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Bessie Coleman and Garrett Morgan.
Shortly before last call to board, some of the children shared some of the lessons they've learned during Black History Month.
"It teaches you that you shouldn't be treating people a different way because of their looks. We should all be treated equally and fairly," one young girl said.
Another boy told CBC Toronto that he's learned "we don't have to pushed around or bossed around or told where to sit.
"It's important because God made us all the same. We're all different but we should be treated the same. We should all just be ourselves and no one should judge us for that," he said.