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School Notes

Pride Flags to fly at St. Albert Public Schools this week, Métis crusader gets national fame, Bellerose returns from climate conference, and architecture student wins medal at Skills Nationals

Pride flags to fly

All St. Albert Public School buildings will fly the Pride Flag on Monday in celebration of Pride Week in what could be a first for Alberta.

St. Albert Public board trustees voted Wednesday to declare June 17 to 24 as Pride Week in St. Albert Public Schools. All district buildings and schools will raise the rainbow Pride Flag on June 17, and students and staff will take part in the official St. Albert Pride Festival on June 22.

While board schools have for many years hosted groups and events that support the LGBTQ community, this is the first time that the board has actually declared Pride Week and flown the flag, said St. Albert Public superintendent Krimsen Sumners.

“We believe we are the first school district in Alberta – this is what we’ve been told – to declare Pride Week and raise the Pride Flag at every one of our school buildings,” she said, citing research by board administrators.

The board made this move to support the many students and staffers in the district that are part of the LGBTQ community, Sumners said.

“It’s important we continue to make the statement that we support these kids with whatever they need, whenever they need it.”

Outloud St. Albert executive director Terry Soetaert said in an email that he was very excited by the board’s decision to fly the flag.

“It’s a huge boost to the LGBTQ youth and adults to show that St. Albert does have a place for them.”

Bank recognizes PK student

One of Canada’s biggest banks threw a national spotlight onto a Paul Kane Métis advocate this week.

Paul Kane student and Métis advocate Hannah Nash was profiled in the Royal Bank of Canada’s 2019 Indigenous Partnership Report, which came out Wednesday. She was interviewed by both Global News Calgary and as a result.

The annual report details how RBC works to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said bank spokesperson William Vu. The bank wanted stories of Indigenous youths to connect to the projects they had supported, and the Métis Nation of Alberta suggested they call Nash, who was their Region 4 youth representative.

The report notes how Nash co-founded St. Albert’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Awareness Walk last year and had been volunteering at National Aboriginal Day events since she was four. It also notes that she hopes to become prime minister by 2046.

Nash is featured in the report’s section on Métis Crossing – a large interpretive site run by the Métis Nation of Alberta near Smoky Lake. (The bank is financing the construction of the site’s new interpretive centre.)

Nash said she has gone to many summer camps at Métis Crossing with her grandmother and siblings to learn about traditional medicines, trapping and other parts of her heritage.

“It really helped me understand what it meant to be Métis.”

Nash said Métis Crossing was an important place for Canadians to learn more about Métis culture and planned to visit it again this summer.

“There’s nothing (else) really like it for the Métis people.”

The report is available on the RBC website.

Finland delegates return

Team Bellerose has returned from an international climate conference in Finland full of ideas to inspire local action on the global climate crisis.

Brianna Stals, Matthew Tuck, and teacher Clayton Wowk of Bellerose returned earlier this month from the World Summit of Students for Climate Conference in Finland. They were the only Canadians at the event.

Held May 29 to June 5, the conference saw some 235 students and teachers from 70 nations create a five-year plan for schools to address the global climate crisis.

The conference was a whirlwind eight days that saw delegates plant trees, learn about climate change, meet Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, and address the World Circular Economy Forum, which overlapped with the conference, Wowk said.

“It was a really awesome opportunity,” Stals said, particularly when it came to learning about other cultures.

Tuck and Stals said conference delegates agreed to a number of action items to carry out once they went home, such as planting trees to capture heat-trapping pollution, restricting single-use plastics, and teaching school members about climate change.

Stals said she and Tuck planned to put solar panels on the roof of Bellerose and bring reusable forks to the cafeteria. They also hoped to take money earned by the school’s recycling program and use it to help students in deforested areas plant more trees.

Stals said she hoped these student actions would inspire adults and corporations to take action on the climate crisis.

“It is the biggest issue that’s going to face our generation,” Tuck said, and it’s already affecting how we live.

“As the generation that’s eventually going to have to counter it, it’s important we begin to talk about it now.”

See for details on the summit.

Silver at Skills Nationals

A St. Albert-area architecture student now has a shiny silver medal after a big win at this year’s national Skills competition.

Athabasca University student and Bellerose grad Jacob Waldbillig won silver in the post-secondary architectural design and technology competition at the 2019 Skills Canada National Competition held May 28-29 in Halifax.

The Gazette’s research suggests that Waldbillig is the first Albertan to medal in this contest at the post-secondary level since 1998.

The event saw about 550 of Canada’s top student tradespersons compete under tight time limits in about 40 trades, including baking, hairstyling and robotics.

Waldbillig, who lives just outside of St. Albert, said his event saw him create complete architectural drawings for a commercial building in 12 hours – similar to what he did at provincials, except the building was twice as big.

“You have so much to do in so little time,” he said, all while some 7,500 students are touring the competition floor around you checking out the different trades.

“The event was unreal.”

Waldbillig said he was very happy with his performance, as his goal had been to simply make it to the podium.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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