Sustainability education initiative involves nine school boards, 270,000 students
Hamilton, ON – Mohawk College announces today a historic voluntary agreement with nine Ontario school boards (Niagara Falls to Brantford and north to Halton Hills), establishing a large-scale learning partnership offering students opportunities for new skills, curriculum connections and research, as they learn first-hand how to reduce the carbon footprints in their schools.
The initiative, called Climate Change Leaders, has a potential audience of 270,000 students in the participating school boards, giving young people a more active role in reducing carbon emissions in their schools while helping Canada move one step closer to meeting its obligation to the Paris accord. In addition, Mohawk College will introduce micro-credits in Climate Change and related topics for students, teachers and staff. This exciting partnership is exploring enhanced experiential learning opportunities for students and teachers in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM), offering new pathways for students toward co-op placements, apprenticeships and new jobs in a low carbon, circular economy.
To transform schools to lower carbon will require school boards to examine deep building system retrofits for mechanical and electrical building systems. Once most of the energy waste is removed, the next phase is to develop on-site renewable energy systems such as solar, geothermal and battery storage. The investment funding aspiration is to use energy saved from retrofits and energy produced from renewable technologies to fund capital investment. Financially, this will have no impact on taxpayers, while exploring the creation of many new jobs, apprenticeships and student co-ops.
Today, the partners gathered to sign a non-binding, collaborative memorandum of understanding, agreeing that the climate crisis is well documented and the path is clear: we must dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy. Working together, they commit to increase their efforts to help solve the climate crisis and explore opportunities to combine technology demonstrations with experiential learning, while building the capabilities and capacity to transform into a low-carbon community.
The school boards involved in this announcement include:
Brant Haldimand Norfolk Catholic District School Board; District School Board of Niagara; Grand Erie District School Board; Halton Catholic District School Board; Halton District School Board; Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board; Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board; Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir; and Niagara Catholic District School Board.
“Mohawk College has been recognized as a national leader in institutional sustainability. We have learned important lessons in building construction, energy and water conservation, and facilities management. We are excited to share our experiences with area school boards, their employees and students. Working together, this partnership will make a significant impact on the carbon footprint of our schools while providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to be sustainability-minded citizens for life.”
– Ron McKerlie, President, Mohawk College
“Environmental stewardship has been an extension of the culture of life that exists throughout Niagara Catholic for many years. With all 57 of our schools receiving EcoSchools certification for 10 consecutive years, we have taken the call from Pope Francis in his encyclical Laudato si’ to heart when it comes to care for our common home, and have continued to find new ways each year to reduce waste and emissions in our schools and sites. Participation in the Climate Change Leaders initiative is really a new and exciting way for us to bring our schools to the next level in protecting the environment. It also fulfills the Catholic Graduate Expectation of creating responsible citizens, not only locally, but globally.”
-John Crocco, Director of Education, Niagara Catholic DSB
“It’s exciting to see partners come together on the important topic of environmental sustainability, which is something our students, staff and community care deeply about. Being part of the Climate Change Leaders initiative is a way that we can explore ways for our students to discover new opportunities and possibilities for themselves – as well as a more sustainable future for all of us.”
– Manny Figueiredo, Director of Education, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board
“Students in Canada and around the world are answering the urgent call to help solve the climate crisis in record numbers, and being a Climate Change Leader is an outstanding way for Ontario students to become climate change activists. Students want action on climate change now, and I’m extremely proud to have Niagara Catholic as part of the Climate Change Leaders initiative. I’m confident that the lessons learned through participation will be ones that all participants – students, staff and families – will carry with them and begin making positive changes. We are all called to be stewards of the earth and must act towards a sustainable future.”
– Jade Bilodeau, Student Trustee, Niagara Catholic and Catholic Board Council President, Ontario Student Trustees’ Association