Windermere Secondary School hosts annual Climate Change Conference

In the late sixties, Windermere Secondary School was a tough East Vancouver high school. I am proud to say that I survived! In recent years the School has become a leader in student environmental awareness and action.

For the 2014 Climate Change Conference (‘CCC’) held in November the chosen theme was fracking. I couldn’t attend all the workshops, so I chose three that interested me:

#1 – Corporate Media, Propaganda and Climate Change, presented by Derrick O’Keefe;

#2 – Economics of Fracking, presented by Marc Lee; and

#3 – (Teachers Only): Climate Justice Is Social Justice: Resources For Schools and the Classroom presented by Ryan Cho.

BottomGraphicEach workshop was hosted by knowledgeable facilitators who expertly balanced facts, stories and visual aids in their presentations. My only complaint is that the one-hour workshops were too short. By the time the presentations were over, time had run out and there was no opportunity for attendee participation or a question and answer period. However, the afternoon session on Climate Justice was two hours long, so there was time for a few interesting participant exercises.

The day began and closed with some noted keynote speakers – Sean Devlin, Aliya Dossa, Caleb Behn, and Professor Lynne Quarmby.

Sean Devlin may be recognized as one of two environmental activists who managed to get on stage beside the Prime Minister at a business conference during the latter’s visit to Vancouver in January 2014. Sean carried a simple sign “Climate Justice Now” and, needless to say, was quickly and roughly removed and arrested, but never charged. Aliya co-founded the movement “Youth 4 Tap” which focuses on the reduction of bottled water in plastic containers and the promotion of tap water. She believes a positive mindset can help achieve one’s dreams while living sustainably. Caleb is from the Treaty 8 First Nation Territory in northeastern BC and recently graduated from the University of Victoria with a law degree. He is among the first UVic Law students to be granted the Concentration in Environmental Law and Sustainability. His story can be found in the documentary film Fractured Land. Lynne is a molecular biology professor at Simon Fraser University, and was one of those arrested at the anti-Kinder Morgan protests on Burnaby Mountain in November.

The conference was well attended by students and faculty from many Metro Vancouver high schools and, despite some technical glitches, was managed effectively by the Windermere C3 (Climate Change Conference) Committee. I was impressed by the green initiatives taken by the school (at the urging of its students) – the hall water fountains allow for traditional direct drinking from a vertical water flow as well as providing an arcing stream to fill reusable water bottles; conference participants brought their own silverware and food containers which were filled by a delectable variety of foods in the school cafeteria; waste separation and recycling containers were available everywhere.

It was intensely gratifying and inspiring to see so many young people involved in developing sustainable behaviours at school, at home, and in the community at large. They are creative and knowledgeable with the practical know-how to implement these positive changes in their lives and environment. I enjoyed reconnecting with teachers and students I met at last year’s conference, and made some new friends this year.

Well done, Windermere!

Posted by Jim Park
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