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GUSH: teaching about world water everyday in Ontario classrooms

Updated: Apr 25

Helping us get ready for World Water Day, I called Dillon Koopmans from Water First. This is a non-governmental organization offering water quality testing and training for adults and educational workshops for grade 7 and 8 students. Dillon is the Educational Programs Manager with a small team of other educators.

Water First’s GUSH program visits classrooms across Ontario to add real-world water literacy to the Grade 7 & 8 Science & Technology and Geography curriculum. Over the span of three years, GUSH has delivered over 1100 workshops in over 20 school boards in Ontario. Workshops teach important water science concepts, discuss environmental stewardship practices, and promote awareness of the context surrounding Indigenous water systems challenges to over 30,000 students.  

The Grade 7 GUSH workshop is called Pollution Solutions and helps students understand the social, environmental, and economic dimensions to water pollution. Students learn the fundamentals of water quality and science and how this impacts society – especially First Nations who often don’t have clean water sources and services.

The Grade 8 workshop is called Working Watersheds and features interactive watershed models that guide inquiry about economic opportunities in Northern Ontario and First Nations communities and the challenges of supporting healthy watersheds. This is a lesson in priorities that is grounded in real experiences and impacts.

CSJ In Canada is a sponsor of the Water First Internship project that trains adults from First Nations communities for jobs in water treatment. Ending the Drinking Water Advisories will take both financial investments and this type of local expertise.

To mark World Water Day and the connections between the CSJ, First Nations water quality, and education and leadership by young people, see and share this short video below featuring Autumn Peltier from Wikwemikong First Nation on Manitoulin Island. On World Water Day 2018, Autumn addressed the United Nations General Assembly about the critical water issues affecting Canada and her community.

What do you think should be taught about water in Ontario classrooms? Post a comment below.

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