By: Nasreen H.
On October 15th and 22nd, 2018, the IEJ team was invited to present three workshops at Elmvale District High School, North of Barrie, Ontario. The workshops involved grade 10 and grade 12 students. After the team gave a brief introduction of themselves and a Land acknowledgement which addressed treaty responsibilities and the role of the plants, animals and water in sustaining life here, we played a short video featuring the voices of Indigenous youth speaking about climate change from the Chiefs of Ontario website.
The video featured Indigenous youth and activists. The purpose of the video was to help students understand the intention of the workshop and get them thinking about the environment in more relatable ways.
Jayce began the workshop by reading the story of the great flood. The students were encouraged to listen and discuss different values and principles that were prevalent throughout the story. Students were enthusiastic in their participation and gave similar responses to those which were shared during ‘Change Your World’ event. After this some photos and words were passed around the classroom and students were divided into groups and asked to write a few thoughts, words or even illustrations associated with the image or word.
This activity generated a lot of ideas and they were discussed with the group afterward. One student mentioned the idea of having reciprocity with the environment, as she realized that we take so much from it, but rarely give back. The workshops ended with thought provoking stories of the student interaction with the environment. A dispute that took place a few years involved the development of a local garbage dump which would compromise the integrity of some of cleanest groundwater in the world, as discovered by German scientist William Shotyk. Some students recalled their parents getting involved with signing petitions to the ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to protect the aquifer. To some, this story was considered a feat of environmental justice. The teachers were grateful to the IEJ team and have been invited to come back to the school in spring 2019 to present further workshops.