The Sunshine Coast is based on the land of the the Coast Salish shíshálh people, who first settled the area thousands of years ago. The town of Sechelt takes its name from them and means “land between two waters”.
The Sunshine Coast extends in a long ribbon approximately 100 kilometres in length. Comprised of three main towns, Gibsons, Sechelt and Pender Harbour, each with its own high school. The area is a safe, natural setting to undertake your educational studies.
The Sunshine Coast is part of the lower mainland and although some people think of it as an island, it is a peninsula. It can be accessed from Vancouver by ferry or by plane.
The weather is mild all year long with warm but not hot summers and cool but not cold winters. Numerous opportunities for shopping exist ranging from quaint small shops in Gibsons to the mall in Sechelt. Many artists and crafters live and work on the coast and many have shops in their homes open to the shopping visitor.
The Sunshine Coast stretches between mountains and ocean over its entire length. Recreation opportunities include canoeing, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding, hiking and mountain biking. We have some of the best trails and ocean access in the world.
This video created by Dolf Vermeulen Creative, sponsored by Rachel Dempster Real Estate, and narrated by Rita Poulsen, Indigenous Education Teacher at Kinnikinnick Elementary and Chatelech Secondary, expresses beautifully how grateful and honoured we are to live, learn, play and work on the unceded territories of the Skwxwú7mesh Nation and the shíshálh Nation.
Sechelt takes its name from the Coast Salish Shishalh people, who first settled the area thousands of years ago, and it means “land between two waters.” Sechelt is the largest centre on the Sunshine Coast with a population of about 8,500. It is between Howe Sound and the Georgia Straight. There is an airport nearby as well as a float plane dock for easy access to Vancouver and Vancouver Island. The community’s central location on the Sunshine Coast makes it a natural hub for business, culture, and tourism. Local shops and restaurants are surrounded by scenic mountain and seaside views, and there is also an aquatic centre, public library, shopping mall, and arts centre. Chatelech Secondary with 460 grade 8-12 students is located here.
Mountain biking is very big in Sechelt/West Sechelt: the very popular downhill mountain biking area, Coast Gravity Park, is a frequent destination, and West Sechelt offers access to a huge network of well-maintained and marked mountain biking trails running through to Halfmoon Bay and Trout Lake.
Chatelech Secondary is located at the top of the hill overlooking the Village. It has a great theatre program, outstanding art program, strong academic program, nearby French Immersion program, and high population of First Nations students makes Chatelech a vibrant, cross-cultural school.
Gibsons is a scenic and peaceful community on the west coast of Canada. It is the town centre closest to where the BC Ferry arrives in Langdale from Vancouver. In 2009 it was named the most livable community with a population of less than 20,000. The current population is about 4,000.
Gibsons features a beautiful harbour, numerous shops and restaurants, and an extensive network of walking, cycling, and mountain biking trails that are second to none. There is also a movie theatre, public library, shopping mall, public art gallery and recreation centre. Elphinstone Secondary, with 500 students in grades 8-12, is located here.
Gibsons is a great home-stay community for students looking for easy & quick access to the Lower Mainland, and those looking for activities relating to the mountains and/or waterfront. Elphinstone is also the home of an award-winning jazz ensemble that has competed nationally, and for the renowned Coast Cable Television Studio and media program.
Pender Harbour is a tight-knit community just a short drive north of Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast. International students may live anywhere from Halfmoon Bay to Madeira Park or Egmont depending on their individual homestay placement. There are several beautiful lakes in the area, an annual jazz festival, and several artist studios. Pender Harbour Secondary is our smallest school on the Sunshine Coast, and with 80 students in grades 7-12, provides a unique opportunity to learn in a “flex schedule” school where students have more choice and opportunity around how they learn in a self-directed manner. This school is also home to the local recreation centre and houses a modern pool and weight room for student access during the day.
The coastline in Pender Harbour is immense, with many inlets, coves, and bays winding away from the main entrances. Madeira Park is the central hub of the region for groceries, services and cultural activities, and boating/paddlesports are very popular here. Pender runs on a slower time and people know each other much better than in the larger towns. There is an easy camaraderie in Pender popular with people who like to get there and stay there for school, vacation or residency.
Recreationally, Pender offers a half dozen lakes and a number of rewarding hikes for outstanding views, a harbour-hopper ferry, and access to outer islands and the backcountry and Sunshine Coast Trail.
There is no bus service to or in Pender Harbour. This means international students are dependent on host families for transportation to Sechelt for activities or connection with public transit to Gibsons. Pender suits students who are independent in nature, like a slower/quieter pace and small classes, and plenty of study time.