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St Mary’s Bay: The Green Coast of the Bay of Fundy!

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I rose with the sun on the morning of April 25th, 2018, and made my way to the Acadian Shore on the south-west peninsula of Nova Scotia. During my Green Schools NS tour of the Clare region, I had the opportunity to visit École Joseph-Dugas, Stella-Maris, St-Albert, and École secondaire de Clare, all positioned along Baie Sainte-Marie: The green coast of the Bay of Fundy!

I knew that I had arrived at my destination when I saw the sign: Welcome to Clare, Nova Scotia’s Acadian Shore! All along the Evangeline route, you can notice not only the Acadian pride and joie de vivre, as the flags fly throughout the community, but also the pride of those who love living in a beautiful and healthy environment.

Upon arriving at École Joseph-Dugas I learned that many students had come together for Earth Day to do a roadside cleanup along routes in their community. Beyond cleaning up our planet, this initiative also led to a fundraising initiative for an end-of-year field trip! I couldn’t believe my ears! When I spoke with the Administrative Assistant to the CAO for the Municipality of Clare, Alain Poirier, I learned about the Community Litter Cleanup Program. The municipality offers $150 per kilometre for roadside cleanups, up to a maximum of five kilometres per school or non-profit organization. It’s also possible to volunteer to gather litter for the program, and then donate the money to a charity of your choice. For the second consecutive year, students at École secondaire de Clare decided to offer all the money raised to Relay for Life! Incredible!

“Ma Hallo!” That’s how Acadians say hello, and it’s also the way I started my four engagements about Earth Day in the amphitheatre at École secondaire de Clare. I posed a question to all the grade nine students: What does it mean to be a Green School? I inspired their curiosity by showcasing some items made from recycled and upcycled materials. I showed them my second-hand boots I found at Frenchy’s, and asking them, “Why do you think these are ‘green’?” Green Schools NS presentations help students reflect on the origin of everyday items, including considering the resources it takes to produce electricity, our energy consumption habits, and how we can all waste less. To demonstrate, I turned off the lights and opened the curtains, adding that I just took action to help the Earth!

After introducing renewable energy, I mentioned to the students that the local university residences at Université St-Anne use solar panels on their roofs. I showed them my solar powered lamp and told them about the solar chargers for mobile devices that are now available for their electronics. They couldn’t believe that in 2018, coal is still the energy source that provides the majority of electricity in our province. With that information, our discussion turned to reducing energy waste and phantom power through energy efficiency. Students saw a huge difference in energy consumption between incandescent light bulbs to LED when we used an energy meter to make a comparison. LED bulbs definitely use way less energy!

During the Carbon Footprint Pledge activity, I was happy to see that the students promised to protect the Earth by shortening their showers, unplugging chargers when devices are fully charged to avoid using energy day and night! I invited the students to visit our Green Schools NS website and that of Efficiency Nova Scotia to find out more about all the programs available to help their family save energy. They really understood that the greenest energy is energy efficiency – when we aren’t using energy – and equipped with that knowledge, they can become green role models in their community.

During lunch hour on the day of my visit, I had the chance to have a meal with Sheila LeBlanc, the community officer for École secondaire de Clare. She taught me that all the garbage we could see in the entrance of the school was a waste audit initiative of the school custodian and Wastecheck to help students realize the amount of waste they produce in a single day. Two weeks later I heard that a Green Team called Plein voiles (Full Sails) just formed following my visit to the school. Their goal is to ban the sale of plastic bottles at their school before the end of the year!

All the best to on your initiatives to waste less along the Acadian shore! Keep it Green!

~Marlène Le Bel
Agente d’engagement

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