Four Incredible Youth Projects Take Root Across Canada

Written By: Hanna Smit, JGI Canada Staff & Nicola Shaw, JGI Canada Volunteer
Category: Youth Power

At David Leeder Middle School in Mississauga, Ontario, the students of Kristine Holloway’s grade 7 class were disturbed to learn that not all Canadians have easy access to clean water. And so began the planning of their Roots & Shoots project. Step one? A scheduled visit to the nearby Credit River and Water Treatment Facility to learn the science behind water filtration and distribution. The students also made plans for a cultural exchange between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to discuss ways to improve water quality for remote communities. Moreover, the class will then conduct an analysis of water samples collected from their peers in different parts of the country to compare water quality and learn more about wastewater treatment. Fittingly, their findings will be announced on World Water Day, and shared specifically with students and Elders in a northern Indigenous community.  Respecting the notion of knowledge exchange, the partnering First Nations community will offer their perspective on our cultural relationship with water for the students in Mississauga.

This project is possible thanks to the students’ successful application to our A.P.E. Fund, which provides support for projects focused on either Sustainable Food or Indigenous Perspectives or – as with the class at David Leeder Middle School  – both. This year, JGI received a record 81 applications, doubling the number of submissions from last year.

Roots & Shoots is a national program generating hives of activity across the country. Students at Whitbourne Elementary in Newfoundland have been running a Little Green Thumbs program which includes a monthly salad day. Students have enjoyed the salad days so much, they’ve decided to build an outdoor garden to grow fresh veggies. By planting and tending a mini-farm, young people will learn about sustainable crops, healthy eating, and how to care for a garden year-round.

On the other side of the country, Elmwood High students in Winnipeg, Manitoba, will raise awareness and better understanding of the culture and history of First Nations people. Indigenous Knowledge Keepers are also playing a role in this initiative by leading a workshop on moccasin making, providing a space to discuss Indigenous traditions, language, and spirituality. The moccasins will then be given to local organizations to distribute to Indigenous foster children.

University students in northern Ontario are addressing local food insecurity by building the People’s Garden Greenhouse next to a community garden. By extending the growing season and increasing crop yield, the group leading the project estimate that as many as 2,000 adults and 1,200 young people will benefit from ongoing access to nutritious, affordable food.

Many teachers have told us about the benefits of the Roots & Shoots program. As Collen Dawson, a grade 5 teacher in Winnipeg, says, “Roots & Shoots takes learning to the next level. The students feel such a sense of pride in their work…they get really excited to see the impact they’ve made in the community.”