You have a great attitude about this and I was very happy to even read your post. I was in your exact situation in high school, so I thought maybe you'd like to hear about it.
In California, the least expensive universities are state universities, these are a step up from colleges and provide a 4 year degree. If you did really well in school and can afford a bit more, you can go to one of University of California schools. Those two are the public options, and if you're really well off, you can go to a private school. I did well in high school, and did decently in my SATs, so I applied to a UC school and just in case I really wanted to pursue my aerospace engineer dream, I also applied to a private school. When I got my acceptances back, I had three choices in front of me. I got into UC Berkeley, Indiana Institute of Technology, and California State University, Long Beach. I was advised to go to UC Berkeley because it was less than 1/2 the cost of the private school, and because it was such a better school than Long Beach. If I could go back in time though, I would have advised myself to go to Long Beach, which offered me a full ride scholarship (I didn't apply, but they sent me a letter anyways). I now know that the school matters, but not as much as I previously thought, and not being in debt at the end of it matters quite a bit.
For me, I worked part time in my junior/senior years at UC Berkeley (and summers), but still, graduated with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Working part time and bits of scholarships helped, but well, it's expensive living somewhere by myself. I also sent money back to my parents during those last two years, and I was proud to do so. I have a friend who I went to college with who found a part time research assistant job that she worked for all four years of college. At first, she had a secretary role, but after the first year, she worked on the robotics team and because of that job (which paid better than my part time IT job) and the few scholarships she was able to get, she was able to graduate debt free.
So, putting everything together, I would advise you the following in order of most to least important:
* Focus on school and get the best grades that you can possibly get. A minimum wage job helps, but it won't help as much as the chance to get a full ride scholarship because your academics are amazing.
* If you're doing great in school, get a part time job. It'll help you earn a bit of income that you can save up, and it'll give you real life experiences that'll teach you the worth of money.
* If you're doing great in school and you can't find a job, volunteer to help. These volunteer experiences will be helpful for you to get into college, and it'll teach you real life skills that you'll use when you get into the workforce.
* When applying to schools, don't waste money applying to schools you can't afford. It'll just make it hard for you to stare at an acceptance letter and realize that you just can't afford it.
* In college, get a part time job. It's especially great if you can work for a professor, as that relationship will be helpful if you ever need a recommendation letter to get into graduate school (if you're looking for that).
I wish you the best of luck, and I really hope parts of my story can be relatable to you in Canada. I hear great things about your country, and I hope that you'll be successful in reaching your goals.