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What’s happening in Rainbow Schools?

Rainbow Board targets 100 per cent participation in EcoSchools Canada

Teacher Stephanie Moyle gathered water from two local water systems, a river and a lake. Students discussed ways they could help protect the water from pollution and keep it clean for the future. During a water walk around the schoolyard, students took turns holding the water and making a promise to help protect the water for the future. Noah Adams, Grade 2.

Rainbow District School Board is on track to have all of its schools EcoSchools Canada Certified by 2022, a commitment made when the Board declared a climate change emergency two years ago.

“By increasing sustainable practices, our schools will reduce their carbon footprint,” said Director of Education Bruce Bourget who praised the Board’s Environmental Education Committee for its leadership.

When Rainbow District School Board pledged to redouble its efforts to tackle climate change, 60 per cent of schools had achieved EcoSchools certification. Close to half of all Rainbow Schools are now targeting the highest level in the EcoSchools Canada program – Platinum Certification.

“Our schools have demonstrated that the smallest of changes can have profound impacts,” said Director Bourget. He added: “Climate change is one of the most defining issues of our time. Our health and the health of our planet depends on what we do each and every day.”

The EcoSchools commitment is the cornerstone of the Climate Change Action Plan that was presented to the Board at its meeting on October 26, 2021.

Guided by five key principles – promotion of global stewardship through EcoSchools Canada Certification practices, inclusive of Indigenous perspectives, evidence based and data driven initiatives, supporting educators with knowledge and resources and working closely with community partners –  the plan aims to raise student, educator, staff and parent awareness of environmentally responsible practices; embed eco policies within the Board’s strategic planning, supporting sustainability; and establish environmental leadership groups to empower others to act as responsible environmental citizens.

EcoSchools provides benchmarks for environmental learning and action in Canada, instilling in students the proficiencies, perspectives and practices to help them become environmentally responsible citizens inside and outside of the classroom. Certification recognizes achievement in six key areas: ecological literacy, energy conservation, environmental stewardship, school ground greening, teamwork and leadership, and waste minimization.

The certification standards align directly with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, making the program an excellent tool for tracking progress. It was estimated that having all Rainbow Schools certified has the potential to save 916 tonnes of CO2 emissions in this school year alone.

Monthly environmental challenges, which include an Indigenous component, have proven to be an effective way to broaden the scope of education and environmental action. Through an “Anishinaabe” perspective, students have the opportunity to experience and understand profound customs and teachings to place an even greater value on the protection of our planet, our home, Mother Earth “Shkagamikwe”. Relevant Anishinaabemowin reinforces appropriate action to support the environmental focus for the month.

Eco-Challenges for 2021-2022 include World Rivers Day, Waste Reduction Week, World Fisheries Day, Youth Climate Action Day, Seed Swap Day, National Sweater Day, International Day of the Forest, Earth Day, World Turtle Day and Clean Air Day.

“It is inspiring to see the varied initiatives being undertaken by our students and our staff,” said Director Bourget. “Students are adopting the values and behaviours required to achieve sustainability, transferring what they are learning in the classroom into their homes and into the community. This generation is leading the way, paving the path forward for those who will follow in their footsteps.”


Media Contact:
Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor,
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning,
Rainbow District School Board, 705-674-3171 ext. 7217.