(Pictured above): Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires takes questions from École St. Germain students.
Sustainable Development Minister Meets LRSD Students
Inquisitive grades 4 and 5 students from École St. Germain sat on the floor of the school's music room and peppered the Minister responsible for Sustainable Development with climate and environment questions yesterday afternoon.
The Honorable Rochelle Squires, MLA for Riel, visited the students after receiving a letter from students connected with the school's EnviroClub, a group that also participated in a Climate Strike student protest at the Manitoba Legislature in January. EnviroClub members and music students sat in on the meeting. École St. Germain is also in Squires' riding.
Squires started by defining the difference between climate and weather—climate encompasses trends in weather over time, while weather refers to day-to-day forecasts. She then explained to students that while the temperature is changing, we can all do something about it by working together.
Maysam Horriat, 10, is in grade 4. "People just ignore climate change because it costs money," he told Squires. "It's cheaper to keep polluting more but it's really bad and a big mistake."
The conversation went on from there, covering everything from phasing out coal in Manitoba, to finding markets for hydro power, and the carbon tax. Students also raised issues connected with recycling and single-use plastics, littering, solar panels and protecting waterways.
Squires spent about an hour talking to students, reminding them that they are her "boss" and they can contact her office any time. "I'm very excited to work with the next generation on issues of our climate and environmental sustainability," she says.
Greta Kull, 9, is in grade 4 and reflected on the meeting. "It's hard to change what already happened," she says, referring to the carbon in the atmosphere. "I learned that they are trying to help but it's hard."
McKenna Perkins, 9 is also a grade 4 and has a positive outlook. "I learned that one small effect can make a big difference," she says.
Horriat, Kull and Perkins are all EnviroClub members and attended the Climate Strike last month. The Club has approximately 30 regular members.
Horriat says he learned a lot about the impact of the Brady landfill from the visit with Squires. He also has a message for all adults. "You need to change to make a difference," he says. "Pollution will not do you any good."
Jennifer Engbrecht is the school music teacher and organizes the EnviroClub. "I very much enjoyed listening to these students' questions and their support for the environment," she says. "They are very interested and they are looking towards their future."
Last month, EnviroClub members participated in a Climate Change Conference, facilitated by Engbrecht and members of the Climate Change Connection, an environmental advocacy and educational organization. They are the youngest students to participate in such an event.
Ginette Paillé works in Student Services for the school and organized the Climate Strike. "There is no more important political priority at this time," she says. "It's good to have an open conversation with the Minister of Sustainable Development so that the kids can understand that their voice is being heard and will hopefully be acted upon in the best way possible."
Amy Haworth is the Principal of École St. Germain. "We've helped kids to articulate their democratic citizenship at a pretty young age," she says. "Squires showed them that government listened. Our kids have now lived democracy in action."
In addition to the EnviroClub, the school also has an Environment Committee made up of teachers that develop school policy on environmental issues.
This month, the whole school begins a three-month Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. It's a classroom competition for Canadian K to 12 schools presented by Canadian Geographic and Shell Canada.
(Pictured below, from left, clockwise): Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires answers many questions from students on February 6, 2019. An EnviroClub member learns how to make a craft out of reusable materials at a Climate Change Conference on January 24, 2019. École St. Germain students participate in Climate Strike on January 11th, 2019.
-posted on February 7, 2019 by Michelle Lancaster, Communications Coordinator.