Sierra Club Atlantic is a vibrant grassroots organization that helps empower people to protect, restore, and enjoy a healthy safe planet. We are your chapter of Canada’s only national grassroots environmental organization, working to bring your community’s concerns to the attention of regional and national leaders.
Sierra Club Canada Foundation and the Save Our Seas and Shores (SOSS) Coalition are deeply disappointed that a third extension has been granted for Corridor Resources’ exploration lease in the Gulf of St. Lawrence by federal and provincial natural resources ministers. The junior oil company was obliged to pay $1 million dollars to extend its lease beyond Jan.
I remember the first time I talked to a fiery Mary Gorman on the phone, as a new staff person at the Atlantic Canada office, her impassioned narrative about the need to protect the Gulf of St. Lawrence from oil and gas development was inspirational. It made me excited to work with her and others from the Save our Seas and Shores Coalition. That phone call was in 2010, and over the past five years I have many fond memories of our campaign to protect of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Wild Child is all about learning the art of being in nature. We work to help the children deepen the understanding of the world they sense, and build up the knowledge of connection a little bit at a time. One of the most important components of the Wild Child program is getting children out into natural areas. Having children experience a new space is one of the easiest ways to get them engaged and excited. All of the games and activities are designed to get them to use their senses more fully, inhabit their bodies, use their imaginations, and ask questions.
I'm so excited to start this adventure with the children of PEI!
There is magic in nature. As a small kid growing up in the PEI countryside I climbed trees, swam in streams, & watched the shadows of clouds race by on the hillsides in my valley. My earliest memories are of being fascinated by the tiny life all around me in overgrown meadows and the peace I felt sitting in the tall plants waving in the ever present summer breezes. I counted the tiny white moths, lady-bugs, and earthworms as my friends. I held countless little lives in my hands; toads, frogs, garter and northern redbelly snakes, and my all time favourite; spotted salamanders!
If you think today’s children’s are spending too much time indoors, you’re not alone.
In response to concerns that increasing numbers of today’s kids are more disconnected from the natural world than any previous generation, the launch of Halifax’s Wild Child Forest School comes as a fresh of breath air for families keen on getting their kids back outside and in a healthy setting.
Following on from a successful pilot program in the spring, Wild Child Forest School has launched an ambitious program of ½ and full day sessions at 2 wooded locations within 20mins to downtown Halifax, beginning in September, giving kids an opportunity to discover and explore nature from this September
The last two weeks have concluded my scheduled visits for Wild Child (although I do have make-up visits scheduled for next week due to all the snow days!). These weeks have been really fun. I have noticed that the by my 3rd, 4th, and 5th visits that relationship with children really starts to become more evident. I remember many childrens names and we can recount experiences from my past visits. Children’s excitement levels seem to increase with each visit. I have also noticed increased comfortability in myself as I revisit each daycare. In terms of relationship building and material retainment, I am curious how a week long visit to each daycare would compare to the bi-weekly visit approach that I have taken. This may be something that the next season of Wild Child could consider trying.
The last two weeks has really shown me that there is a large amount of community interest and support to get children back into nature. Perhaps you saw the segment on CBC’s Compass with Boomer or made it out to the fundraiser for the Wild Child Program, or maybe you will pick up the Guardian this week and read about Wild Child in the paper.. regardless, the support for this program has been great and is very encouraging to those interested in getting nature programs into childcare and education systems. From news stories to fundraisers, I am getting the notion that people genuinely want children to reconnect with nature. What an inspiring message!
Taking matters into their own hands, Grade 6 students in Halifax raised $512.50 for blue whale research and public awareness in Atlantic Canada
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 26, 2015
HALIFAX -- Thanks to the creativity of Matthew Szeto’s Grade 6 classroom at Sir Charles Tupper Elementary in Halifax, blue whale B392 will hereafter be known as Iris, named for the uncanny shape of an eye discovered in her pigmentation. The students participated in the Sierra Club Canada Foundation/ the Mingan Island Cetacean Study “Name the Whale Challenge”.
“Children haven’t named something this big since the planet Pluto,” said Blue Whale Campaign coordinator Zack Metcalfe.
Two weeks of stormy, cold, snowy weather can put quite the damper on outdoor fun... so sometimes you have to bring “the wild” inside!
On the days where it is too cold for the little ones to venture out into the snow, there is a giant blue tub of animal items that I bring them. There is a little bit of everything in this tub, including: a beaver pelt, coyote skull, robin’s nest, porcupine quills, barred owl wing, and turtle shell (to name a few).
I journey my way through Charlottetown, meeting some of the most interesting individuals with the most profound messages and ideas you could imagine encountering. What do I do? I play with kids in nature!!
A second Sierra Club Wild Child Nature Immersion Program is underway in PEI, only this time: it’s winter fun!
It is truly an amazing experience to slow down and let our imaginations wonder. At one visit, the kids and I made up a game called “Chipmunks” all on our own while we were discussing animals that need trees to live. The game was a relay design where children had to run to a tree, grab a nut or pinecone (we used whatever we had on hand), then run back to their “hole” to store the nut for the winter and tag the next person in line. The first team to go to the tree and back twice “won” the round. As the weeks unravel, I become more amazed at the creative minds of the children I meet. My visits are a valuable reminder of why play and imagination are key to healthy, engaged living.
On October 18th, we hosted a tree and shrub planting in the Dartmouth Commons with the support of numerous community members who came out to assist, as well as city staff and elected representatives who showed their support both on the ground, and in council.
We had a great turnout of devoted community members who eagerly planted the 7 trees and 100+ shrubs that comprise the municipality's first community orchard.
This October we're taking a walk on the spookier side of things in the Halifax Commons area. We're going to be guided by expert historian and author, Blair Beed, who will show us the area around and including the Halifax Commons. Mr. Beed, a former contender for Halifax Town Crier, will take us in the footsteps of those who came before us, and tell us about the impacts these spirits have had, and still have today, on our city.
Congrats to Paul who won the raffle prize from Russell Lake Takes Root 2. He takes home a fall yard-care package from Kent, Russell Lake, consisting of a battery powered leaf blower/mulcher, electric chainsaw, lawn spreader, and more. A huge thanks to Kent Russell Lake for donating the prize in support of our program, and everyone who purchased tickets so that we can continue to provide quality events to the public!
Help us plant 2100 trees in Baker Drive Park, and celebrate Russell Lake Takes Root.
Last year we hosted our first tree planting in Russell Lake West, a new community branching off of Baker Drive in Dartmouth. We planted 1200 trees with the help of over 400 members of the community both local, and further afield. We're returning this year to continue our mission to make Baker Drive Park a greener place on Sept 20th, 10AM-2PM.
Tuesday, August 12 was my fourth visit to the Campus Kids Daycare centre. I had a very special treat planned that day and I had gotten up quite early to make sure everything was organized.
Before we set off for the day's activities I showed everyone a large assortment of insects and arachnids in cases and frames. These were from my personal collection but they suited the activity so well I couldn't miss an opportunity to share them with everyone. Among the creepy crawlers were an assortment of butterflies and beetles, including a rhinosaurous beetle as big as their hands. There was also a leaf bug, a millipede, a scorpion, and a tarantula. The children were both fascinated by the bugs and would have gladly stayed there all day looking at them.
Tuesday, August 5 was the third week of the Wild Child program at Campus Kids daycare. By this point, the children have come to expect my visits and we already cleaning up when I arrived. Another bright and sunny morning, though thankfully not as hot as the week before.
We set off across campus to the same location from day one, the large trees outside of Main Building. Here we quickly got into the "Bat and Moth Game", after a quick lesson on echolocation of course. The Bat and Moth Game is a lot like Marco Polo. One child covers their eyes and says "bat", the other child responds with "moth" and the chase is on. After a while we gave the children a five minute "run around" break to do whatever they wanted. An epic game of tag ensued, the likes of which I'll probably never see again.
Tuesday, July 29 was the second week of the Wild Child Program at UPEI's Campus Kids Daycare. The day dawned hot a sunny, and I was grateful that we had scheduled the program for the morning hours, or the heat would have kept us all inside.
When I arrived I was greeted by a chorus of "Hi Ashley!" and excited whispers of "Look, Ashley's back!" Most of the faces were familiar. The children who had not been present the week before were quickly brought up to speed by their peers that we were going to play fun "secret" games. They eagerly cleaned up their toys and within ten minutes we were on our way.
Tuesday, July 22 was the first day of the Wild Child program on Prince Edward Island. I awoke bright and early, and was soon on my way to the Campus Kids Daycare at the UPEI campus. I arrived during snack-time and was given homemade biscuits with butter. An excellent start to my first day.