Ewan MacIver worked odd jobs for months to save for his Grade 11 European trip. He babysat on weekends and worked at the Westmount arena, saving as much as he could.
The Westmount High School student was bitterly disappointed when the March trip was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was really difficult,” MacIver said. “It’s a tradition, really, for the older grades to go. I had been looking forward to it since Grade 7.”
What’s more upsetting for him and his family now, though: the tour company still hasn’t refunded the $3,700 cost for the cancelled trip.
“A lot of my family chipped in, it wasn’t just my mom — everyone pulled together because it was a really expensive trip and my mom worked hard, so it’s really sad to see,” MacIver said.
The cancelled trip left about 50 students from Westmount High School out of pocket. Initially, the trip was rescheduled for the end of June, but has since been cancelled.
The English Montreal School Board had contracted EF Educational Tours to organize and lead the trip. The company didn’t respond to Global News’ requests for an interview.
The EMSB says its legal department is following up with the travel company.
For now, students have vouchers for travel valid for one year. In letters sent to parents and students, the company also suggested the vouchers could be sold to other students who might be travelling next year. It’s something families involved believe is not realistic.
“I think it’s completely absurd,” said Steven Gilletz, the parent of a student who was supposed to go on the trip. “They should do the right thing — give back the money. People worked hard for it.”
Steven and Cheryl Gilletz’s son Max had saved birthday and Hannukah money to help pay for the trip. The family doesn’t plan on ever using the voucher and simply wants a refund.
“I am out of work, my husband is out of work right now, so times are tough,” Cheryl Gilletz said. “Money is super hard right now. We can definitely use this money we have paid out that our children did not go on this trip with.”
Although he’s disappointed, MacIver is certain he’ll get to Europe one day. What’s more unsettling now is the uncertainty he’ll ever get his money back.
“I saved $300, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was all I saved all year.”
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