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Our Community: Students fuel spirit of collaboration

The production of a limited-edition coffee-table book by Grade 6 students from Rockheights Middle School isn’t just another school project.
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The Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association Atom B1 team delivered more than 300 pairs of socks to the Dandelion Society last week.

The production of a limited-edition coffee-table book by Grade 6 students from Rockheights Middle School isn’t just another school project. The venture, in collaboration with the Creatively United for the Planet Society, heralds a change in which students are taught through inquiry-based projects.

The book, Stepping Into Nature, tries to capture the spirit of community collaboration and volunteerism. It documents how the students became more in touch with nature and the greening of their school through writing, cartoons, artwork and photographs.

“It has been a grandiose adventure. Instead of the old rote-based education, we were able to engage the children in collaboratively based learning, in this case, about their community and the greening of their environment,” said Maryanne Trofimuk, principal of the school. “It represents a paradigm shift in education with British Columbia leading the country in innovation.”

The students presented copies of the 20-page hardcover book to the school, the Township of Esquimalt, the municipal library and Esquimalt Parks and Recreation in a ceremony on Thursday.

The children received help from photographer Frances Litman.

“The students had a big opportunity to get out and have a multi-faceted education in an outdoor classroom using the arts in nature, thanks to their forward-thinking principal, her capable staff and volunteers,” said Litman, volunteer project co-ordinator.

A professional video was also created that documents the project.

The Creatively United for the Planet Society is a registered non-profit best known for staging an annual free community all-ages Earth Week.

For more information, go to or


Deadline nears for stewardship funding

Educators have until Friday to apply for funding for Stewards of the Future, a new program to promote stewardship and environmental awareness among youth.

The program in an initiative of Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon and supported by the Government House Foundation. Its primary purpose is to support and encourage youth to connect with their environment and explore their communities.

“The goal of this program is to encourage open discussion and gain a better understanding of the issues that affect our natural surroundings,” Guichon said in a statement. “It is my hope that, through their participation, students will develop a broader understanding of the environmental issues affecting us and consider how we can come together to establish a vision for a sustainable future.”

Funding and support will enable youth to go on field trips, visit local sites of interest and initiate stewardship projects.

People can download a number of documents from the lieutenant-governor’s website, including a toolkit, educator resources, educator tips, activity suggestions, student passport and application forms.

The deadline for the application is Friday with successful applicants notified on Jan. 30. For more information, go to stewards/default.html.


Faith conference here this week

First Met United is holding Epiphany Explorations, its annual national faith conference, from Thursday to Sunday.

The annual conference generally attracts more than 400 people from across the continent and across faith denominations.

The event, held since 2003, offers a place for discussion, learning and moments of encounter with like-minded individuals, as well as those with new or differing ideas.

The conference is an opportunity for attendees to begin, renew or expand the horizons of their faith.

This year’s event has a social-justice theme, with a dozen interesting and even controversial presenters scheduled to speak.

Individual sessions are $30, full conference $325. Main sessions start at 2 p.m. Thursday and run until 9 p.m. Sunday at First Met, 932 Balmoral Rd. Those unable to attend in person can also join in online via a live online stream for $150.

For more information, go to or call 250-388-5189.


Foundation urges life without alcohol, drugs 

Canada’s Temperance Foundation has launched Be You Promise, a national campaign to educate and generate awareness among Canadians to live a successful, fulfilled and fun life without abusing drugs or alcohol.

The non-profit organization, based in Victoria, is hoping the campaign can start a conversation about the affects of using drugs and alcohol. Substance abuse is one of the largest social and economic problems in the country, with 47,000 deaths annually linked to the problem.

The Be You Promise is a vow to yourself to be the best you possible, without using drugs or alcohol. Other elements of the campaign include an emotional video, digital advertisements and social media. For more information, go to


Young goalies’ efforts help the less fortunate 

Two nine-year-old hockey players are winners on and off the ice after creating a challenge that has made winter a bit more bearable for those less fortunate.

Keiran Caughran and Angus Snow, both goalies with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey Association Atom B1 team, decided to take up a Saves for Socks challenge.

The concept was simple — for each save they made in December, they would donate a new pair of socks to the homeless. Once they heard of the plan, their team jumped on board as well.

The two boys collected more 300 pairs of socks to reflect their saves in six games played in December. Player’s families have pitched in, donating coats and hats to go with the socks.

The collection, in the name of the team, was delivered to the Dandelion Society last Sunday. For more information, go to


Entrepreneur program shares financial literacy 

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria has just announced a partnership with Early Entrepreneurs, a social enterprise aimed at increasing financial literacy amongst students from kindergarten to Grade 12.

Early Entrepreneurs began as an experiment to see what a handful of elementary classrooms could do with a $100 micro-loan.

But instead of typical fundraisers, such as bottle drives, the classes were tasked to think entrepreneurially, to use the money to start their own small businesses, such as making birdhouses to sell at the local market, running lemonade stands and putting on a performance night with an admission charge.

The original experiment was an overwhelming success with 18 classes raising more than $18,000 for charity. Since then, classes in Duncan, Vancouver and even Toronto have joined the experiment.

Proceeds from global initiatives benefit Free the Children, while local initiatives go toward Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria.

Participating educators receive curriculum-based lesson plans, forums to communicate with other teachers, access to local mentors and ideas to encourage innovation and thinking in the classroom. For more information, go to or


Cool Aid Society shares the gift of warmth

Victoria’s less fortunate will be a little more comfortable in the weeks ahead after the Victoria Cool Aid Society’s Coat Drive Giveaway on Thursday.

The society distributed about 400 donated coats, gloves, socks and other warm and wet wear to whoever needed them from their Downtown Community Centre, 755 Pandora Ave. The clothing was donated by the public, businesses, classrooms and workplaces. For more information, go to


Speaker series addresses energy issues, policy 

The B.C. Sustainable Energy Association, Victoria Chapter presents Look: No Carbon! The Future of Transportation, on Monday.

This is the latest talk in its 2014-15 Speaker Series, which is themed on federal energy-policy issues, leading up to the anticipated federal general election in the fall.

The talks run until Sep. 21.

Admission is free. The meeting runs 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the First Metropolitan United Church, 932 Balmoral Rd. For more information, go to


Janeece a runner-up for Queen’s award 

It has been revealed that Janeece Edroff was chosen as a runner-up to the Queen’s Young Leaders Award. The award is meant to honour young people who have made a difference to their communities and who have overcome difficulties in their lives.

Edroff was nominated with the backing of the Vancouver Island Branch of the Royal Commonwealth Society and supported by former Victoria mayor Dean Fortin.

Despite suffering from neurofibromatosis, a very painful disease, she has been tireless in her fundraising efforts over the years. She was the youngest person to receive the Order of British Columbia and is a recipient of the Queen’s Jubilee Medal.

The Victoria native is one of four runners-up from Canada and chosen out of thousands of nominations from across 53 countries of the Commonwealth. For more information, go to