Departure Bay Eco-School student Nolan Oussoren, Grade 1, shares what he knows about sea urchins during KidsMeet the Ocean, a webcast to classrooms across Canada organized by A Kids’ Guide to Canada-By Kids, For Kids. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

Nanaimo students issue Canada-wide challenge for kids to go without straws

Departure Bay Eco School took part in national webcast on World Oceans Day on Friday

Students at Departure Bay Eco-School are throwing down the gauntlet for Canadian classrooms to go strawless for 30 days.

“Together we can make a big difference, our future depends on us,” said seven-year-old Nathan Plante during a national webcast on World Oceans Day on Friday.

The elementary school students invited Canada into their classroom for KidsMeet the Ocean, a national webcast organized by A Kids’ Guide to Canada – By Kids, For Kids. It was watched live coast-to-coast by students in kindergarten to Grade 8 on World Oceans Day, a celebration of oceans as well as a time to bring attention to ocean-related concerns and seek change.

The theme this year is also to stop plastic pollution, an issue Heidi Anderson’s Grade 1 and Tanya Cairns’s Grade 3/4 class started studying earlier this year.

They’ve seen garbage first-hand during beach cleanups and have sifted through sand to learn about microplastics. Come Friday, students were armed and ready to share what they knew about the Pacific Ocean, with photos and poster boards about sea life, like rock crabs and sand dollars, and the problem with garbage.

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Kiri Mountain, 9, said the goal was to show people the ocean because maybe they’ve never see one before and to talk to them about whales and other sea life.

“Maybe where they live they don’t know that plastic and pollution is affecting our ocean so much so we wanted to get that out there,” added Cameron Catton-Cox, 9.

The students have already brought a 30-day go strawless challenge to their school this spring, after hearing about the difference two students made through the OneLessStraw Pledge Campaign, a similar effort. On Friday, they extended the challenge to the rest of the country, as well as to Nanaimo residents and businesses. Next year students plan to seek a ban on straws from Nanaimo city council.

Ivy Holmberg, 8, said plastics are affecting our ocean because fish eat them, “they get sick and then maybe they get eaten by a seal and then the seal gets sick and maybe the seal is eaten by an orca and the orca gets sick. Just because one animal eats it, it could affect many animals,” she said.

Six-year-old Zoe Sullivan said people should go strawless “to save the Earth and the animals and us.”

It’s a little hard, she said of the challenge.

“It’s like a habit for some people, not for me though. I am used to recycling straws.”

Anderson, a Grade 1 teacher, said the students are being risk takers, standing up and getting their voices out there and making connections with other kids to make a difference.

“I’m really proud of them,” she said.

The city, in partnership with Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Snuneymuxw First Nation, also held an event at Maffeo Sutton Park with touch tanks, games and a fishing weir demonstration in recognition of World Oceans Day.



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