The “Corvée du Mont-Royal” and the “Castor Humain”

CorveeThe Corvée du Mont-Royal is an annual event put on by Les Amis de la montagne where groups of people help beautify the mountain by picking-up garbage and planting new trees. On May 2nd, a few students from our Green Team got involved.

The instructions were simple: pick up garbage and, for safety reasons, dismantle campfire pits and shelters. Temporary shelters or lean-tos, right? Not so. These shelters were intricate winter homes made from twigs, tree trunks, and other foliage. They were constructions made by “des castors humains,” as our guide stated.

The shelter that we happened upon had two rooms; crawling space only. This shelter was built for real survival purposes and not some “survival in the woods” contest. Supposedly, the mountain is home to many homeless in the winter time. So, why was I helping to dismantle someone’s home? We were told that it was for safety reasons since the occupants leave their homes in the spring and the unoccupied “shelters” can then be ill-used by others (e.g., the building of bonfires).

The spot was marked for another team to finish the “clean-up.” As we were leaving a heavily laden man was approaching the shelter. He stopped and stared at us. Not a word was spoken. Obviously, this homeless person was not ready to leave his winter home just yet…

The Corvée du Mont-Royal will become one of the Green Team’s regular annual events. We hope you can join us next year. —Vilma Scattolin, Faculty Advisor to the Green team

Celebrating our Planet Earth

EarthWeekAnother year has passed since our last Earth Day and Environment Week at LCC. Unfortunately, on the global scale it’s easy to feel gloomy about the general state of the environment. Climate change is a huge topic, and while politicians around the world debate the issues—as they did at the Copenhagen Conference last December and only implement minimal change—we all ask, what is really being achieved?

I believe that at the grassroots level, people are more aware that the environment matters. Individuals, not governments are making a difference. People are more responsible and accountable, not because they have to, but because they want to.

How about within our own school community? Have we made progress by reducing our footprint and becoming greener? Are we building a more sustainable school?

I am proud that we have made a number of advances. Yet, I will be the first to assert that we have yet to develop broad universal “buy-in” and consciousness. For too many people in our school community, environmental changes remain only skin deep. More effort is still required to embed sustainable practices into our daily lives.

We have made achievements and some notable progress. Consider the following:
 We have made the environment and sustainability one of the seven pillars of our school’s current strategic plan.

 We have significantly reduced our energy consumption at the school in recent years thanks to some initiatives we implemented three years ago.

 Under the leadership of Ms. Scattolin and Mr. Olive, the LCC Green Team and a host of students have made notable changes including implementing a composting program.

 Our Sustainability Committee, made up of student, faculty, and Board representatives meet regularly outside of class time to consider new directions for our school.

 We have developed a Sustainability Mission Statement that will soon be endorsed by our Board and will define school practices well into the future.

 Our Board has made a commitment to build a sustainable green “Learning Commons” and we are aiming to construct a gold LEED-standard building.

 The environmental curriculum has been enhanced for students and interesting activities are available beyond the classroom.

 Creative and engaging “environmental video minutes” have been presented at school assemblies.

 Our focus has been on initiative and change, not window-dressing.

Clearly, LCC has made an open commitment to become a greener and sustainable school. The rest is really up to our students. At assembly this week, I was direct and asked students from grades 7 to 11 if they cared. Is environmental progress something they see as important or do they see it as someone else’s responsibility? Will more leaders emerge from our student body, or will students simply accept bad habits that we know we cannot sustain? What is our students’ vision of environmental management, as it will likely be the defining issue of their adult lives?

These are difficult questions. I hope we address them head on in the coming year. In the interim, remember that this is Earth Week and the importance of celebrating all the elements that make up our very fine planet. The other evening I left school following a short, light rain shower that had refreshed our now green fields. The smell of the dirt and the grass was fantastic; a reminder of how quickly the natural world adapts from a barren, Montreal snow-covered winter. Miraculously, our fields develop into the beautiful natural green space our school community enjoys from spring to fall.

This week, I hope you will participate in some of our Earth Week activities. I also hope you will find time to connect with nature and remember how blessed we are in Canada with so much open space and exceptional natural beauty. We all have to accept responsibility for stewarding what native Canadians have always called “Mother Earth.” Let’s all care for her with passion and a true sense of responsibility. —Chris Shannon, Headmaster

LCC Going Local

GoLocalGiven that what we eat has a large impact on the environment, the LCC Sustainability Committee is reviewing LCC’s food sources.

Thanks to the efforts of five graduating students from the Class of 2008, as well as our excellent chef Alain Thirion, we already have much of the data we need for this project. Make no mistake, in this day and age, it is challenging for a North American to figure out where their food comes from. We take it for granted that we can get fresh fruit in the middle of a Canadian winter. This luxury comes at a steep cost to the environment.

LCC is in the process of setting long-term sustainability goals, and we are attempting to create a balance between optimism for what can be achieved and realism for what may be expected. Ideally, we would like the vast majority of the food served at LCC to come from within 250 km of the school. This is not as difficult as it might seem. For example, Première Moison (bread) already gets all of its flour from Quebec. Much of the beef and chicken is from within the province as well.
Vegetables and fruits are another matter. They are one of the reasons we will likely not reach our 100% local food goal, at least until there are enough greenhouses supplying mid-winter fruit. Thus it is here that we face our key challenge.

To get a quick view of some locavore ideas, check out this link. –Chris Olive, Green team Faculty Liaison

The Visit of the Composting Display

Fortunately for all of us, despite Quebec’s so-so performance on large environmental issues, there are many excellent programs of a smaller nature that are making themselves felt around the province. One such example is the L’Interre Actif compostage display that came to LCC thanks to the efforts of faculty member Jean- François Maurice.


As many people know, LCC already has a composting program at the school. Vegetable and fruit scraps from both the dining room and the kitchen are directed into either our own (somewhat restricted) composting bins or alternatively, into the much larger program of Compost Montreal. — Chris Olive, Green Team Faculty Liaison

Earth Week: Biodiversity – “We are the World” (April 19-23)

EarthWeek2010It was an interesting experience to brainstorm with the Green Team on biodiversity –this year’s theme for Earth Week. Most of the websites that we researched revealed how important biodiversity is for humans since the many living beings on our earth allow us to obtain food, shelter, medicine, leisure, etc.

What’s wrong with this picture? As humans we are one among millions of species that exist on Earth. We are not the most significant part, yet we have a very egocentric idea of our place on our planet. True we depend on other species for our survival, so shouldn’t other species depend on us for their survival? We need to start looking beyond our own concerns and look at the world around us as full of energy, beauty and strength; characteristics that we should be incorporating in our own beings.

Our chosen theme of “We are the World” stresses how we can make a difference in the world not only in terms of caring for fauna and flora, but also with a concern for social justice.

We have a number of fundraisers set for Earth week in hopes not only to raise money for important causes, but also to raise awareness.

EarthWeek2010_ChildWorldWe will hold a raffle for a metal wall decor, which was made by an artist from Haiti entitled “children of the world.” Tickets will be available at the Front Office and proceeds will go toward relief efforts for Haiti.

EarthWeek2010_GreenGenTshirtsWe will sell “Green Generation” T-shirts with the slogan: “Reuse the Past, Recycle the Present, Save the Future,” written on the back. The money raised will be given to our local SPCA.

EarthWeek2010_TapWaterAidWe will have a “Fill the Water Jug with Coins” campaign to raise money to buy a gift from Water-Aid, such as a water pump, that will help a third world community obtain access to safe water.

We hope that you will be part of our celebration!

–Vilma Scattolin (Faculty Advisor) & the LCC Student Green Team