May 27, 2002

Protecting the Environment through Education

The meeting was attended by 15 members and 9 guests


Stewardship and Environment Committee: Jim Haliburton , Chair
1. The North Shore Recycling Program is doing well with 68 schools and several thousand students involved.
2. The EcoHome Project is now fully underway. The project organizers, Lilly Briggs and Nina Clarke stopped by to report progress and show some of their products.
3. The Environmental Audit of BC Hydro will be held on May 29. We will have a report for the next meeting.
4. The Environmental Block Watch program will soon be getting underway.
5. The City of West Vancouver has reversed its previous opposition to a ban on cosmetic pesticides and is now moving towards a total ban.

Spirituality and Personal Development: Diane Jennings, Chair. The committee has a meeting coming up on June 3 and will report more details next time.

Health and Wellness: Maggie Gold, Chair. Work continues to form the BC Integrated Medicine Association. At the next Institute meeting a panel of survivors from serious illnesses who used integrated medicine will tell their stories.

Youth and Education: Kristin Cassie, Chair. Gerri Schwartz reported that a positive meeting was held with Dr. Rob Tierney, Dean of Education at UBC and Russ Pacey, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, New Westminster. A meeting involving key players will be held before the end of June to discuss setting up a pilot project on values based education in New Westminster.

Business and Sustainability: Desmond Berghofer, Chair. A report on last month's meeting on the Measurement of Well-Being has been prepared and circulated. The committee is now working to enlist the support of MPs and municipalities for the Canada Well-Being Measurement Act.


Protecting the Environment through Education

Jim Haliburton chaired the program and introduced Michael Dunn as the originator of the concept of the Gulf Islands Centre for Environmental Learning. Michael described the project as a child-based, nature-based project that is now 2 ½ years old in concept. Michael introduced Duane Sutherland, former Superintendent of Schools of the Gulf Islands School District #64, to describe the history and development of the project.

Duane used the metaphor of throwing a pebble in the pond. The ripples move out and make things happen. Children are eager to learn and ready to act. Our task is to give them support to operate from knowledge.

The Gulf Islands School District encompasses several islands (Galliano, Mayne, Salt Spring, Saturna, Pender). It is an exceptional school district that has achieved the top grade point average in the province in 3 out of the last 5 years. It has an outstanding relationship with unions and strong community support.

The genesis of the Gulf Islands Centre for Environmental Learning was an entrepreneurial mindset and a realization that the District encompasses a beautiful marine environment suitable for environmental learning. Michael Dunn gave them a clear focus for the concept of the Environmental Learning Centre. The school district received a research grant, Michael organized a think tank and people came on side, including the large number of sceptical environmental scientists who live on the Gulf Islands.

The setting provides a safe rural environment with 4 major natural assets: Marine Ecology, Forests, Fresh Water and Agriculture. They also have the support of the First Nations communities who have extensive land holdings on the Gulf Islands. The idea is to have a learning pavilion on all 5 islands.

The vision is to develop in children a value for ecological citizenship that would inform future decision-making regarding human impact on the environment.

The plan is to give children and their teachers, who would come to the Centre from their home schools, a 3-5 day experience including learning, problem solving, adventure, immersion, exploration, reflection, recycling, composting and story telling.

The concept not only benefits the children but also provides a professional development opportunity for teachers. The community benefits from a positive collaboration of the business, cultural and education communities.


After the presentation the audience met in 4 discussion groups to develop questions and consider how the Institute might support this initiative. Several points were brought out in the following plenary discussion:
1. The Centre is envisaged as a World Centre, which can be a model for other centers around the world.
2. It is recognized that 3-5 days is not long enough to develop deep ecological learning. The intent is to create an emotional connection for the student with the environment and foster a desire for ongoing learning.
3. The developers are looking at a wide range of funding agencies for support.
4. The Centre should incorporate the use of theatre and music in promoting learning.
5. It should be of interest to Elder Hostels.
6. It should establish linkages to the New Horizons Education Society at and to
7. Natural medicine and good diet are reinforcing themes throughout the curriculum.
8. It will be important to promote the centre to like-minded, like-purpose groups through networking activity.

In closing the discussion Jim Haliburton said that he has received a lot of interest and support for the concept from the following groups: the Vancouver Maritime Museum, a private Underwater Museum proposed for Lonsdale Quay, Mountain Equipment Coop, Stanley Park Ecological Society and the Robert Bateman Foundation.

Next Meeting

Date: June 24, 5:30 p.m. - 8.30:p.m., Vancouver Public Library
Theme: Health and Wellness
Topic: Personal stories of the benefit of Integrated Medicine in serious illnesses.

Please invite others to come and learn more about the benefits of integrated medicine.