Trees and hope were planted in Tsútswecw Park in the North Shuswap recently, thanks to the work of Chase students and their collaborators.
On Earth Day, April 22, a couple of dozen students from teacher Ivy Chelsea’s Secwepemctsin 9-12 class at Chase Secondary planted about 200 trees, mostly Douglas fir, with some Western Red Cedar and Ponderosa pine.
They were accompanied and/or supported by Neskonlith elder Bernice Heather, the Adams River Salmon Society, the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, Interfor, the Kalamalka Research Station and Seed Orchard in Vernon, BC Parks, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
The project was originally meant to include Haldane Elementary students, but pandemic restrictions scuttled that plan.
The day began with the elder’s opening prayer and song, followed by Chelsea doing the honour song, then introductions.
In 2018, Chelsea and her class at that time were instrumental in the Story Trail in Tsútswecw Park. Students from her class partnered with BC Parks and created audio recordings of different aspects of the park and their signifigance to Indigenous culture. The audio recordings were turned into QR Codes and put on signs throughout the park. Now visitors, using their smartphones, can access the student recordings and learn about the culture. According to Chase Secondary’s learning plan, the project served as a pilot for BC Parks, with the intention to use the same process in provincial parks throughout the province.
Chelsea said her students enjoyed the earth-day tree planting.
“They were all gung ho; they really liked that we went out.”
Organizers Molly Cooperman and Brenda Melnychuk (former longtime teacher at Haldane) are both Wild BC facilitators with the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation (HCTF) and both members of the salmon society board.
They work with schools throughout the region to get students and teachers outside and connected with nature. On Earth Day, trees were also planted at Sorento Centre and South Canoe Elementary.
Melnychuk said planting trees is the best way she knows to help alleviate ‘eco anxiety,” and for students to build hope for the future and stay connected.
She expressed kudos for her mentor Kim Fulton, “also known as Dr. Fish,” who liked to come to Haldane Elementary for Earth Day dressed as the Lorax, and has always talked about the need to foster hope.
She said he took charge of ordering all the seedlings for Earth Day.
As there weren’t as many tree planters as expected because of the pandemic, extra seedlings were give to Haldane students to plant.
Cooperman made note of all the organizations who helped make the tree planting happen, including volunteers from Interfor, funds from HCTF Education and BC Parks, donations from the research station and more.
“This was really what HCFT Education is about, connecting children with nature and learning about diversity.”