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For the past couple of years, some of the youngest students at Ecole Boreale have been learning about recycling and taking care of their environment, both in the school and around it.

The effort is being led by Klaudia Mika, a support assistant at the school, who says that everyone has a part to play in protecting the environment.

“It’s not always somebody else’s responsibility. It’s your own responsibility,” she said. “That’s what I’m trying to teach the kids.”

That happens in a number of ways at Ecole Boreale in an initiative focused on children in pre-Kindergarten to Grade 6.

At lunchtime, some of the younger students, four- and five-year-olds, are taken for walks around the school and on the nearby trails.

“We walk regularly with them around here during the whole winter, maybe twice a week,” said Mika. “So we do walks for 20 minutes and we collect regular papers and garbage around here.”

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The youngsters are also learning about composting.

“So every little child in the school we show them how to select the compost, how to select the recycling,” said Mika.

The school also has a FoodCycler, a machine which can turn waste food into additives for soil, meaning less waste going to the municipal landfill.

There is also a shredding machine, which the students call ‘the monster’, so paper can be diverted from the landfill.

Mika drives the shredded paper to the Northern Farm Training Institute (NFTI), where it is used for such things such as bedding for animals.

“So it doesn’t go to the dump, which is huge for us,” said Mika.

The messages of recycling, composting and generally taking care of the environment are getting through to the students, based on comments from some of the youngsters provided by Mika.

Grade 1 student Lennox Millette said it helps trees.

Hudson Riley, a Grade 2 student, said it helps the water.

“If we don’t keep the water clean, then we can’t catch the fish and eat it,” he said.

Emmanuel Engen noted the shredded paper going to NFTI will help keep pigs warm in winter.

And Grade 1 student Aiden Gagnon pointed out that recycling will help keep the school’s classrooms clean.

“I think it shows the community that we care,” said Mika. “It shows that you can teach your child quite early that it’s possible to recycle, it’s possible to take a little bit more care of the world and especially to keep the community cleaner.”

Mika said there is just one world and she wants to help protect it for the future.

There is now clean soil in which to grow plants and there is clean water, she said. “It’s my responsibility to give it to the next generation.”

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