RCE Peterborough Kawartha Haliburton - 2020


Youth Leadership in Sustainability (YLS)
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Youth Leadership in Sustainability (YLS)
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Peterborough Kawartha Haliburton
Contributing organization(s) : 
Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board
Trent University
Flemming College
Kawartha World Issues Center
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Cam Douglas
Organizational Affiliation: 
Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Wednesday, October 7, 2020
Integrate Indigenous Knowledge into policy development. Engage Youth in decision making. Engage in local climate action.
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Peterborough, Ontario, CANADA
Address of focal point institution for project: 
201 McDonnel St
Peterborough, ON
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Peterborough City & Counties have a mixed urban/rural base, respectively. The rural base is engaged primarily in farming, and farms are scattered among mixed forest in a gently rolling topography. The region is set within hundreds of lakes that drain through the historic Trent Severn Waterway. The city's economic base is driven by post secondary institutions, health care, natural resource management and manufacturing.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Young citizens voices are not influencing decisions that will have profound impacts on them. Intensified urban and agricultural impacts have challenged the water quality of local lakes and rivers. Climate change impacts include intense flooding (2002 & 2004) and ongoing water shortfalls in the farming sector. Local governments are in early stages of responding to the climate crisis with meaningful action.
September, 2018
Many young people are acutely aware of the threatened state of our planet, but lack understanding of the complexity of issues and solutions and have rarely been given the means and opportunity to take positive, meaningful action. Youth are disproportionately impacted by decisions being made today around natural resource management and climate policy. Informed, engaged youth will catch the ears and hearts of decision makers local and beyond and more sustainable decision making should result.
- to provide experiences and opportunities for students to develop the skills, relationships and knowledge base that will allow them to play a leadership role in protecting our planet
- to better understand sustainability from Indigenous perspectives then consider how to incorporate this learning into western environmental decision-making
- to center learning in authentic, land-based learning with a wide range of community partners
- to connect students with sustainability practitioners so that students can see opportunities for meaningful work beyond high school and post secondary;
- to make kids want to learn
Activities and/or practices employed: 
Four full time integrated secondary school course learning that has included: immersion in nature; tree planting; wild rice harvesting and processing; exploring Indigenous knowledge systems; engaging with local environmental NGO initiatives; interacting with vendors and consumers at local farmers' market; working with local officials to help downtown businesses curb single use plastics; speaking directly with candidates in Federal election; volunteering in political work; teaching in children's water festival; surveying old growth forests; vegetable gardening; salamander surveys; hands-on learning of sustainable building practices;
Size of academic audience: 
65 so far
During and after participation in YLS, students stepped beyond course expectations and engaged directly with local environmental organizations and presented directly to City councilors around climate, energy and waste issues. Students speak of a new way of viewing their world, and very much appreciated the authentic community and outside-based learning they experienced. Some student who struggled within the tradition classroom setting became reengaged in the learning process.
Lessons learned: 
Youth will take advantage of opportunities to engage directly with decision makers.
Most community decision makers genuinely appreciate hearing the voice of youth.
Nature-based learning is fun, mentally and physically regenerative, and relationship building.
Indigenous knowledge systems offer a transformative opportunity to rethink our relationship with nature and each other.
Engagement with local community organisations provides for very rich, authentic learning.
Key messages: 
The YLS program is engaging Peterborough youth very directly in the issues, challenges and opportunities in their local communities and beyond. Youth have a razor-sharp focus on the troubling trends in the planet they are inheriting, and their voice is crucial to hear right now. The traditional education system would do well to more fully prepare our youth with the tools and confidence to speak out.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
YLS works very closely with Camp Kawartha and the "Pathways" project, and serves as somewhat of a bridge between secondary and post secondary learning in the region, through its partnership with Trent University & Flemming College, and because it is housed at the Trent Campus.
YLS received a "SEED" (startup) grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in 2017. This helped with program and curriculum development. Ongoing project costs are covered mostly by the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, while cost of field trips and workshops are covered by student families and community bursaries.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon S3470013.jpg (140.37 KB) surveying an Old Growth forest north of Peterborough C. Douglas
Image icon 20181015_110006_resized.jpg (377.58 KB) Water Quality assessment through Macroinvertibrate analysis C. Douglas
Image icon YLS tree planting.jpg (513.27 KB) tree planting with GreenUp C. Douglas
References and reference materials: 
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level