Keyano College Partners with École Boréale and Wood Buffalo Schools for Environmental Awareness

Posted On Thursday May 02, 2024

The Environmental Technology program at Keyano College, led by its Chair, Dr. Marie-France Jones, has been actively promoting environmental education in the Wood Buffalo region for 15 years. Dr. David Smith has implemented the environmental program in several schools. The latest initiative, a partnership with École Boréale, features the launch of an Environmental Club that aims to deepen students' connection with their natural surroundings.

At École Boréale, the Environmental Club, organized by Dr. David Smith and Keyano student Ethan Josey, engages students with diverse activities. Ethan and David, who are interested in environmental education, facilitate sessions on carbon footprint calculations, soil analysis, bog field trips, and the study of invasive species and indigenous plants. Nature walks and species identification are part of the curriculum, along with indigenous arts and crafts, where students create environmentally friendly crafts like dreamcatchers, beadwork, or weaving with natural materials, reflecting the local indigenous culture. The boreal wilderness that surrounds Fort McMurray is the primary focus.

Principal Sonia Coulombe underscores the importance of nurturing an ecological conscience in students from their early years. She highlights the significance of environmental awareness: “Early awareness of environmental issues among students is crucial as it allows them to develop a sharp ecological conscience from a young age. Encouraging them to take action equips them with the tools to make a difference and inspire lasting change, shaping tomorrow's ecological leaders.” She expresses gratitude towards Dr. Marie-France Jones, Dr. David Smith, and Mr. Ethan Josey for their roles in facilitating this enriching program.

The objectives of this project are multifaceted. Firstly, it seeks to increase young students' interaction with the local environment, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of nature. Secondly, it aims to strengthen the collaboration between Keyano College and local schools, creating a community of shared learning and environmental stewardship. Dr. David Smith remarked, "This program underscores the vital need to integrate the local indigenous cultures and their traditional environmental knowledge. The students comprehensively understand the region's environmental heritage and the ancestral wisdom that has guided its stewardship for generations."

Moreover, the program provides Keyano College students like Ethan with invaluable practical experience. This hands-on learning contributes significantly to their professional development, equipping them with the skills and knowledge necessary for successful careers in environmental fields. Dr. Smith underscores this, stating, "Our program not only inspires the next generation of environmental stewards in our region but also provides Keyano students with the practical experience they need to excel."

The partnership extends beyond École Boréale, encompassing multiple schools, including Father Perin School in Janvier, Bill Woodword School in Anzac, Elsie Fabien School in Fort MacKay, Athabasca Delta Community School in Fort Chipewyan, Fort Chipewyan Alternative High School, Composite High School, Westwood High School, Fort McMurray Islamic School, Father Patrick Mercredi High School, Dickinsfield School, Dr. K.A. Clark Public School and Elsie Yanik Catholic School.

This is a testament to our collective commitment to environmental education. This collaborative effort is about educating students and fostering a deep-rooted environmental consciousness and respect among all students. It's about building a community of environmental stewards, laying the foundation for a sustainable future where every individual plays a part.