By Glen Argan
Edmonton Catholic Schools should strive to become Canada’s most environmentally sensitive school district.
Since 2001, popes have been calling for a “global ecological conversion,” a call which reached a crescendo in Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’: Our Common Home. For Pope Francis, this conversion must be built upon a spiritual foundation – the awareness that God is the Creator, creation is God’s loving gift and every creature reflects something of God.
The pope wrote: “A mystical meaning [is] to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dew drop, in a poor person’s face” (LS 233).
As an institution which strives to be fully Catholic, our school district is called to play a prominent role in this global ecological conversion.
I propose that the next board of trustees work with the school district administration to develop a charter for making Catholic ecological spirituality integral to the life of Edmonton Catholic Schools.
Such a charter would include the development of ecological spirituality, an increased curriculum focus on ecology, and a plan for making all school district and school board practices ecologically sound.
Much work has already been done. In July 2015, Development and Peace and the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association held a curriculum writing workshop on ecological justice and other related topics. New schools are being constructed with sustainability as one of the major foci.
Still, a full inventory should be undertaken of school board practices which could be altered to reduce the consumption of material resources.
In the classroom, students could study Catholic teaching on the nature of creation and that of the human person. Sustainable development principles could be integrated into subject areas such as home economics, science and technology, trades and other hands-on subject areas.
First Nations elders could be invited to discuss the understanding of indigenous peoples of their relationship with Mother Earth. Schools could begin urban gardens so that students develop their own relationship with the earth and come to see the potential of city dwellers doing their own farming.
Christian faith calls us to a deep respect for God’s presence in creation and to play a leading role in countering the ecological sins which today threaten humanity and creation.
Our world must develop new strategies and new lifestyles to help reverse the effects of climate change. Edmonton Catholic Schools should take the actions necessary to become a leader in sustainability.
(Glen Argan is a candidate for the Edmonton Catholic school board in Ward. 75.)