Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver

Windermere Leadership students lead Earth Day Parade 2016

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Sunday, April 24, 2016



Earth Day

Windermere student organizers, community youth and cycling dinosaurs march for environmental justice in celebration of Earth Day. Photo courtesy of Y4CJN

For five years now, Vancouverites have been marching down Commercial Drive to the tune of The Carnival Band in celebration of our planet and Earth Day (which falls this year on April 22). Spirits are always high as youth and community members parade down the streets engulfed in a sea of banners and picket signs.

The marchers are accompanied by a giant windmill made from pop cans strewn together with chicken wire and a trio of fossil-fuel-loathing dinosaurs who are just as eager as the rest of the participants to express their environmental concerns.

Business operators and cafe goers drift away from their duties and conversations to gaze at the over 200-strong group of marchers headed towards Grandview park where speakers and entertainers await.

For the past few months, a new group of Grade 11 students from Windermere high school have been hard at work organizing the 6th annual Earth Day Parade and Celebration. The event is organized entirely by these students, together known as Youth 4 Climate Justice Now, along with guidance from their teacher Vagner Castilho. One student organizer, Gabriele Liessi, has been busy filling out event permits.

“I’ve been attending for the past three years and it’s always something I look forward to. I think the event is a great way for youth like me to get involved with climate-related issues and to show adults just how important having a sustainable future is to our generation,” Gabriele says.

The high school organizers aim to attract students from all over Vancouver out to the march and parade to educate and stand with each other in the battle for a greener future. Of course, people of all ages — young and old — who are concerned for the planet are encouraged to show up. In the past more than 1,000 people have attended the celebration and amazing environmentalists such as David Suzuki have even been guest speakers.

This year, the parade and celebration will be happening on Sunday, April 24. Bring your family, friends, signs, banners and spirit! Costumes are encouraged as well so don’t be afraid to dress up. For more information, please visit


Windermere Leadership program wins Earth Day Canada award

November 2015, the Leadership program at Windermere Secondary School won the Group Hometown Heroes Award from Earth Day Canada for their environmental work. The prestigious award comes with a $10,000 cash prize to support their work.

Over the last 10 years, the Windermere Secondary Leadership Program (WSLP) has spearheaded a number of large-scale and far-reaching environmental initiatives and events.

WSLP’s most notable environmental accomplishment is the education and empowerment of students across Vancouver through three major community events: the annual Climate Change Conference (C3), that brings over 300 students from across Vancouver together for a day of presentations, workshops and hands-on action; the annual Earth Day Parade and Celebration, a community event that has attracted up to 1,000 people and shut down Commercial Drive; and a film screening of two environmental films, Directly Affected and Spoil, with a special panel to address students and educate.

In addition, WSLP’s accomplishments include a garden with 25 large garden beds, 30 fruit trees, 20 perennial berry bushes, greenhouse, aquaponics system and a composter that can hold up to two tons of food waste; a grassroots program where leadership students present sustainability lessons and mentor Grade 6 and 7 students; car free day; a bike program with a fleet of 30 bikes for physical education classes to use; and a successful campaign and fundraising initiative that reduced the number of plastic water bottles going to landfill by over 50,000 to date, through the purchase of three special water fountains.

The Leadership program also had 50 students attend the Global Climate Race in Stanley Park last year and raised $1,000 for solar panels for the Stanley Park nature house.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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