Climate Justice Week 2017

The NWSS Library hosted Climate Justice Week on May 1-5. The week-long event showcased the science, the economics, and the social impact of global warming. There were 12  guests speakers and presentations with over 1000 students attending.

BROKE (Burnaby Residents Opposed to Kinder Morgan Expansion) opened the week detailing the environmental consequences of the KM expansion.

Entrepreneurs can be green and successful –  this was the message from Jerry Kroll, CEO of Electra Meccanica  and Erik Olofsson, owner of Olofsson Construction, a company that builds energy-efficient Passive Homes.

Youth have always been agents of social change.  Geoff Dembicki, lead sustainability writer for The Tyee, guided us through stories from his upcoming book, Are We Screwed:How a new generation is fighting to survive climate change.  Climate Justice through action by youth – this is the mission of Be The Change Earth Alliance. This non-profit organization has developed more than 40 classroom-ready lessons based on the principles of climate justice and concrete actions youth can take.

Climate Justice is an ethical issue. This idea was was introduced by Sheri Lucas, Phd candidate in Philosophy. Sheri Lucas, in collaboration with molecular biologist, Dr David Steele invited students to join the growing movement towards a plant-based diet. See their organization Earthsave Canada for compelling arguments and delicious recipes.

Global issues of migration and conflict were echoed by Padang Relief Society who  collected $300 from our students to relieve the famine in South Sudan. New Westminster  Sanctuary Schools policy was explained to us in its mission to  ensure access to school for children with precarious immigration status.


The politics, economics, and social impact of climate change where discussed by two candidates running for MLA in the the riding of New Westminster. Judy D’Arcy, campaigning for the NDP and Jonina Campbell, candidate for the Green Party,  encouraged students to exercise their democracy muscles by casting their ballots the following week in the Student Vote.  NWSS alum, Peter Julian, MP, gave a Canadian perspective on Climate Justice – social justice and environmental sustainability for all.

Thank you to everyone who attended Climate Justice Week and we look forward to seeing you in the Library soon  – Save the date for the first NWSS Library Maker Fair May 30 at lunch !

Ribbet collage climate justice week

Global Issues Week 2016

1400 students attended Global Issues 2016. Ten members from the community addressed maximum capacity crowds in the library. TelusWise Ambassadors reminded students about Internet and Smartphone safety.  This message was underlined by  the actors of Justice Theatre who re-enacted a real Canadian trial about cyber-bullying.  For the second year in a row, Amy Patterson answered youths’ top 20 questions about their sexual health. PatParungao, retired Teacher Librarian, delivered two participatory presentations on behalf of  BC-ALPHA , an organization that promotes an  awareness of crimes against humanity committed during WWII in Asia. Environmental Journalist, Arno Kopecky, took students through a masterfully narrated and visually rich journey from Peru’s Amazon rainforest through to BC’s Great Bear Rainforest. PACE Society educated us about Sex Workers’ safety issues and their rights as workers. Dr. David Steele, molecular biologist and president of Earthsave Canada informed us of the environmental impacts of animal agriculture. The Honourable Peter Julian, MP for New Westminster-Burnaby concluded the events by encouraging students to take a leadership role in their community. His message included the importance of participating in civic life, awareness and action through attending events like Global Issues Week, and unswerving dedication to school.

Peter Julian 2016

Peter Julian, MP

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Telus Wise

Arno Kopecky

Arno Kopecky

Justice Theatre

Justice Theatre

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

BC Alpha

Global Issues Week 2015

photo of posterDid you know that in addition to being the best selling author of Daaku, Ranj Dhaliwal, also….

-Restores Harley Davidsons
-Works as a legal researcher
-Was invited to run for political office
-Is a Red-Seal electrician
As an expert on IndoCanadian gang violence, Ranj Dhaliwal is a highly sought out speaker by police and community groups vested in stopping youth from joining gangs. Ranj’s presentation shared his teenage years growing up in Surrey with friends who joined gangs and his road to educating and improving himself by getting a trade, working full, juggling family life, all while finding the time to write (ie: on the Skytrain and on his Blackberry).

Run by the People’s Law School, Justice Theatre re-enacts Canadian trials in order to educate the public about their legal rights and responsibilities. This year’s re-enactment of a gang related kidnapping was timely due to the recent violent shootings in BC this spring. Students formed part of the jury and the rest of the audience was invited to ask questions.

Ribbet collage bc alphaBC-ALPHA delivered two presentations related to human rights violations committed during the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945). The topics, “Biochemical Warfare and Human Experimentation” and “Japanese Sexual Slavery” examined concepts of exploitation, propaganda, and restitution. Powerful visuals, art, and interactive participation strategies engaged students in small and large group discussions about these important historical events, the root causes that continue to be relevant, the interpretative nature of history, and what values are important in democratic societies.

Ribbet collage AI 2015Amnesty International’s BC coordinator, Don Wright explained the origins of Amnesty International and its grounding in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. Don informed students about current campaigns such as freedom for journalists, girls’ access to education, and privacy issues. He also included various avenues for student involvement in Amnesty’s work through volunteer opportunities, campaigns, and the AI Book Club.

Ribbet collage mmiwFormer NWSS Student Teacher, Emily Menzies, created an interactive workshop for our students on the topic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Classes participated in cooperative activities which gave them to chance to explore the the importance of the women in their own lives to understand the extent of the tragedy of violence against First Nations women. The students of Ms. Sacco’s English class were inspired to take action and wrote letters to Prime Minister Harper asking for more action on this issue.

Ms. Amy Patterson, NWSS English teacher and Certified Sexual Educator, spoke to 300 students on the topic of Sexual Health. Her principal messages were that accurate vocabulary about our bodies protects our rights and it is important for individuals to recognize and respect their values. Ms. Patterson also answered questions she collected from students and covered 20 key points that students want to know. Ms. Patterson suggested some books for further information, available in the library, and through the website

ashley littleTwo-time BC Book Prize winner Ashley Little concluded Global Issues Week. She spoke about the process of researching Anatomy of a Girl Gang, which included living for three weeks on the Downtown East Side and researching youth gang involvement. Ashley Little has just completed her MFA in Creative Writing and shared with students the rigors and discipline of the writing process.

Climate Reality Project 2015

The Environment Club hosted a return of the  Climate Reality Project presentation by UBC Sociology professor David Tindall on January 15, 2015 in the school library.  The event was attended by 150 students and their teachers – interest was high as the event “sold out” in one day. Dr. Tindall spoke about Climate Justice: how global warming affects the future of youth and to consider sustainable energy practices as a human rights issue.  Thanks to Environment Club member, Sophie Labrosse,  for organizing this ! climate justice (1)

Global Issues Week 2014

The fifth annual Global Issues Week occurred during April 7 – 11 2014.  Thanks to all of the presenters and students and teachers who attended and participated in the workshops.

Blanket Exercise. Betha Lansdowne led students through a participatory activity that questioned  the historic relationship between Europeans and the Indigenous nations, and in the history of colonization in the lands we now call Canada.

REEL Canada is a travelling film festival that showcases Canadian film and identity.

Out in Schools engages youth through film in the promotion of safer and more diverse learning environments, free from homophobia, transphobia and bullying.

Linda Gray read from her book, First Nations 101 is an easy to read primer that provides readers with a broad overview of the diverse and complex lives of First Nations people.

Justice Theatre is a six-member troupe who staged a scripted dramatizations of an actual hate crime.  12 students participated as members of the jury.

Don Wright, regional coordinator for Amnesty International,  gave an overview of AI’s campaigns to protect and promote human rights.

giw 2014 (1) giw 2014 (3) giw 2014 (5) giw 2014 (6) giw 2014 (8)

Inquiry into Social Justice

The aim of this project is to extend our experiences with teacher inquiry into conducting our first Social Justice inquiry project.  Our vision of this summative task is to make visible our thinking about social injustice.

Phases of Inquiry Exploration

1. Intitial question.

Why is this question important to me ?

How is this question connected to my life / my beliefs ?

Discussion and further thinking on the question.  How did group processes help/ change my thinking ?

2. Data Collection

How will I explore my question

What information sources are you using most of the time ?

What information sources are you rarely using ?

What are some interesting quotes I found in articles / books, etc.

Did I find something I did not expect to discover about the issue ?

3. Data Analysis

What did I discover ?

Do I see emerging themes or patterns ?

What are the most important things I discovered ?

How did my conversations with my peers help me get insight into my issue/ question ?

4. Implications

How can I connect my question to my school, the community, a political policy ?

How did my inquiry change my thinking ?

What new questions do I have now ?

5. Sharing my inquiry

. Impact my peers in school in a positive way

. Keep journals and reports.

. Add visuals

. Blog/ Prezi / video




Youth Initiative in the library: Say No to Coal

saynotocoalThe Youth Initiative club held an information session on November 19 in the library about the shipping of coal through Fraser Surrey Docks.   Youth Initiative leaders,  Fiana Liu and Grace Ji , informed us of a  Port Metro Vancouver proposal to handle up to 8 million metric tonnes of coal per year as it moves from the US to China. The Youth Initiative had a visual presentation illustrating the scale of 8 millon tonnes of coal and the consequences of allowing such amounts  to pass through New Westminster and the Fraser River. Key concerns are noise pollution, air quality, health hazards, jobs, and global dependency on coal and other non-renewable  energy sources.  The Youth Initiative enlisted the support of
the NWSS Environment Club as well as encouraged the school community to become more informed, sign petitions, and engage in actions to demonstrate their views
on this issue. More information is available at

Environment Club Lecture Series : Tar Sands

tar sands walkMembers of the NWSS Environment Club and interested students filled the Reference section of the library to hear Science teacher, Ms. Nathan talk about her participation last summer in the Tar Sands Healing Walk, an event that raises awareness about the social and environmental impacts of the Alberta Tar Sands.  Ms. Nathan shared her photographs, scientific information, and her impressions of the various speakers and workshops that occurred at the weekend-long event. Ms. Nathan described her fellow Healing Walk participants, showed photographs of the Oil Sands Discover Centre, as well as explained the problems with the reclamation areas and tailings ponds created by corporations such as Syncrude. Finally, we saw images from the 14 km walk through the tar sands behind a banner proclaiming “stop the destruction, start the healing.”  The presentation concluded with members of the Youth Initiative social justice club inviting members to the library the following week for a presentation on the risks of coal exports coming through Vancouver ports.tar sands walk 2

4th Global Issues Week – 2013


project of heart tile 2Due to fabulous workshop facilitators and great audience participation, Global Issues Week has been an event to remember.  The week started off with REEL Canada Film Festival.  Facilitators, Sue Biely and John Bolton introduced us to two great documentaries, The World Without Her and Mohawk Girls.  These two films took our audience 480 students into the lives of girls as they struggled to find their identity amidst multiple and often contradictory social, family, and spiritual allegiances.  Bertha Lansdowne and two local Elders, Se’qwa:ye’nte’n and Qu:kwa’,  expressed the consequences of Residential Schools, including the death of children in these schools and the inter-generational trauma that remains in the hearts of  First Nations peoples.  The event culminated in students’ participation in Project of Heart, tiles painted by  students as gestures of reconciliation towards the horrors of Residential Schools.  Amy Candido, a facilitator from Kelty Mental Health,  gave an account of her personal struggle with disordered eating.  For there, she helped students deconstruct cultural body images and closely defined examples of disordered eating.  She left us with strategies by which to strengthen our self esteem, including “loving ourselves, loving our bodies” wrist bands.  Vancouver’s 2012 Slam Poet Champion, Zaccheus Jackson, led students through a riveting, hilarious, and bittersweet journey through his life.  Alex Buckman, a child survivor of the Holocaust told us how the Holocaust impacted his life and our responsibility as witnesses to always remember this tragic part of our history. Out In School brought three dynamic facilitators who showed us funny and poignant films that helped NWSS youth understand LGBTQ issues, homophobia and bullying.
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