Barrie teacher Marty Lancaster combined his two passions in life to create an assignment for his environmental science students: politics and a cleaner planet.
Lancaster had been involved with the local Green Party in the recent election, but remained focused on his Grade 11 environmental science class at Bear Creek High School in the south end of town.
The Just Transition Program is a federal government initiative to gather input on how to successfully transition from fossil fuels.
Lancaster says it was a great way to impress on his students how important it is to have their voices heard by those who run the country.
“Anyone can send their comments to the government on what they think is the best way to move away from fossil fuels and I took this as a way to involve my class as homework,” Lancaster said. BarrieToday. “We wrote letters to say if we support this, what kind of energy they suggest, how quickly this should happen. Basically, make their opinions heard.
While her two classes, about 50 students in total, were delighted to send in their suggestions, they also discussed how they could make their views heard.
“We started spreading this to the whole school, to parents and even on social media to continue to develop the idea. We want a lot of people to submit their opinion on this important opportunity to tell the government what to do, in a sense,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster says the feedback from his students was excellent and he got the reaction he was hoping for and more.
“They bet everything on it. Some gave me a reaction you want, and some really woke me up,” he says. “There was a sense of urgency in their letters and their voices during the conversation. Some of the students were sternly saying that we all had to do more, that the government had to act now. This generation gets it more than any before it.
Lancaster also tells BarrieToday the most important thing about this initiative was the students and their involvement.
“They hope to encourage other forward-looking people to submit their ideas to the government on how to make the transition from fossil fuels successful,” he says. “We are doing things here at school like solar panels, tree planting and gardens, but this is a very important time for Canada to make intentional change for a better future.”
Some of the students and their comments included:
Isabella — “Be part of the solution, not part of the deadly pollution.”
Horrible — “Please (Canada) set bold but realistic goals that will be achieved in eight years by 2030.”
Riley — “We don’t have time for the government to worry about it and then buy a pipeline the next day.”
Charlotte — “Don’t be mean, keep the water clean…from oil spills.”
Lucas — “Stop spending money on fossil fuels and start spending on renewables.”
owen — “Indecision got us into this (climate change) situation and action will get us out of it”
Alexis — “There’s no ‘I’ in the team. We build gardens, but we don’t help you act and tell the government to switch to green energy, tell Canada to phase out fuels fossils for a better future.”
If you are interested in sending a letter, go to the site by clicking here.