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 recent elections, but has remained focused on his Grade 11 environmental science class at Bear Creek Secondary School in the city's south end.
The Just Transition program is a federal government initiative to collect feedback on how to successfully transition away from fossil fuels.
Lancaster says this was a great way to get his students to see how important it is to get their voices heard by those running the country.
“Anyone and everyone can send their feedback to the government on what they think the best way to move away from fossil fuel is and I took that as a way to get my class involved as an assignment,” Lancaster tells BarrieToday. “We have written letters to say if we support this, what kind of energy they suggest, how fast it should happen. Just basically making their opinions heard.”
While his two classes, approximately 50 students in total, were excited to send their suggestions, they also discussed how they could get their views heard.
“We started pushing this out to the whole school, to parents and even on social media to keep growing the idea. We want lots of people to submit their opinion on this important opportunity to tell the government what to do, in a sense,” Lancaster says.
Lancaster says the feedback was great from his students and he got the reaction he hoped for and then some.
“They went all in 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 voices during conversation. Some of the students were sternly saying that we all needed to do more, the government needed to act now. This generation gets it more than any before them.”
Lancaster also tells BarrieToday the most important thing about this initiative was the students and how involved they are.
“They hope to encourage other forward-minded people to submit to the government any ideas they have about how to successfully transition away from fossil fuels," he says. "We are doing things here at the school like solar panels, planting trees and gardens, but this is a very important moment for Canada to make an intentional change for a better future."
Some of the students and their comments included:
Isabella — "Be a part of the solution, not a part of deadly pollution."
Leah — "Please (Canada), set bold but realistic goals that are achieved in eight years by 2030."
Riley — "We don't have the time for the government to care, 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 fuel and start spending on renewable energy."
Owen — "Indecision got us into this situation (climate change) and action will get us out of it"
Alexis — "There is no 'I' in team. We are building gardens, but we not your help to take action and tell the government to switch to green energy, tell Canada to eliminate fossil fuels for a brighter future."
If you’re interested in sending a letter, go to the website by clicking here.