On 26 and 27 May 2017, MGCI’s EcoTeam planted a pollinator garden in the planters near the school’s main entrance to address the problem of declining populations of pollinators. Specifically, these planters are outside the office entrance and Stairwell 2. EcoTeam planned the pollinator garden in hopes of creating a new habitat for pollinators. Due to the amount of work involved, two planting sessions were required: the first one was after school on the Friday, from 2 pm to 4 pm, and the second one was Saturday morning, from 10 am to 12 pm.

Students weeding out weeds to clear space for the pollinator plants. Photo: Michelle Woodley

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, are dying due to climate change and pesticides, among other factors. The pollinator garden is also part of EcoTeam’s greater plan to become a Bee City School. Bee City Schools is a subgroup of Bee City Canada, an organization that aims to help cities, schools, and campuses to be more active and vocal about the pollinator problem.

EcoTeam worked with the Ontario Nature Youth Council to accomplish this project. MGCI is one of the council’s Toronto planting locations for their pollinator campaign. All of the plants were provided by Ontario Nature and funded with their TD Friends of the Environment grant.

In total, around fifteen students participated in the planting. In the first session, all the existing weeds and plants were removed to make room for the pollinator plants. The new plants were subsequently planted the following day. Participating students planted Pearly Everlasting, Lance-leaved Coreopsis, Giant Sunflower, Sweet Oxeye, Heath Aster, and Large-leaved Aster flowers.

Lisa Wang, Co-President of EcoTeam, said, “I think it went quite well as we were able to plant about one hundred and eighty native plant species and filled up the planters spaces we intended to plant in!” However, although the event was advertised to the entire school through announcements and social media, Lisa wished more students had been involved.

MGCI’s EcoTeam also hosted Greenpeace speakers at MGCI on 26 May 2017. Five Greenpeace volunteers came to Room 227 at lunch to talk about climate change. They provided a brief description of Greenpeace and their activism before asking students to think about the impacts of climate change, how to convince non-believers, and solutions. They also had several brochures with a range of topics from promoting green energy to stopping tar sands.

TDSB EcoSchools recognized MGCI’s EcoTeam’s accomplishments this year; for the third consecutive school year, Garneau is a Platinum EcoSchool. Some of the team’s initiatives include the snack bin posters, reducing garbage in the cafeteria at lunch to just one bag a day, and the annual Trashion Show.

Despite the school year coming to an end, EcoTeam still has plans for a litter campaign and a visit to Valley Park Middle School to promote their initiatives.