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Rainbow Schools challenged to use less electricity
Rainbow Schools are being challenged to use less electricity throughout February as staff and students continue to focus on climate change. This month’s environmental challenge kicked off with National Sweater Day on Thursday, February 1, 2024. Schools turned down the heat and invited students to wear sweaters, layer up or bring a blanket.
An energy footprint measures the amount of energy consumed to produce the goods or services we use. Knowing and understanding our consumption can inspire sustainable actions and determine if those actions are making a difference.
To prepare, schools were given four years of data on electricity consumption to calculate and measure their average use. Prizes will be awarded to the three elementary and secondary schools who achieve the greatest overall energy savings.
“The goal of the challenge is to encourage sustainable practices,” says Rainbow District School Board Director of Education Bruce Bourget. “We want students to be aware of the electricity they consume, and to find ways to reduce their consumption inside and outside of the classroom.”
Schools can reduce their energy use by turning off lights during class time or lunches, unplugging electronics when not in use, and using a timer to charge electronic devices.
From an Indigenous perspective, organic matter from trees – the largest plants in the world – were the main source of energy for our ancestors. Trees were burned for heat, used to feed animals, and were also cleared to make room to grow gardens and crops.
To speed up production, over time, trees were replaced with non-renewable energy sources including nuclear, coal and petroleum.
In the name of progress, the importance of being grateful for the gifts provided by Mother Earth Shkagamikwe has been forgotten.
Nature has sustained our existence, and, as noted in Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants”, it’s time to push beyond gratitude and encourage cultural reciprocity – to receive a gift, to be grateful, and then to give back – to help us appreciate the interconnectedness of life.
To inspire positive thoughts and actions, and to help guide student learning, classes are encouraged to hear from an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper.
Schools were also given various resources, including a story from Isaac Murdoch about restoring balance with the land, and how the teachings of the Medicine Wheel’s four directions guide Indigenous traditions and practices.
What will next month’s challenge be?
Nicole Charette, Senior Advisor
Corporate Communications and Strategic Planning
Rainbow District School Board, 705-674-3171 ext. 7217