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Canorans front and centre at sustainability awards

A number of individuals and initiatives from Canora were honoured as RCE Saskatchewan held its 16th annual awards ceremony for achievement in education for sustainable development.

CANORA — “Honouring champions in sustainability.”

A number of individuals and initiatives from Canora were honoured as RCE Saskatchewan held its 16th annual awards ceremony for achievement in education for sustainable development on May 15 in Yorkton.

As indicated during the event, the winners “all educate, encourage and engage others in local action that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainable construction at Keeseekoose

Steve Merriam of Canora was involved in the development and instruction of the Suncrest College Sustainable Construction Program at Keeseekoose First Nation. The program began with nine students.

“It included ten weeks of instruction and two weeks of work experience,” said Merriam. “During the instructional time, students studied carpentry tools, safety, and techniques, sustainable building designs and climate change. Students served their work experience at the Saulteaux Pelly Agency Health Alliance (SPAHA) located on Keeseekoose First Nation. The general contractor, Hipperson Construction, Regina, agreed to take the students for work experience, and I went along to supervise the students.”

The students built a greenhouse for Keeseekoose Chiefs' Education Centre using a mixture of new and recycled materials, which fits right in with sustainable construction as well as sustainable food production.

“We were able to re-purpose some windows donated by a community member in the construction of the project,” said Merriam. “The building was designed with several windows on the south wall of the building to capture sunlight and heat. We insulated the building to keep the heat in. We also elected to hand nail a majority of the building materials rather than using powered nailers.”

After the completion of the program, which started Dec. 4, 2023 and ran until graduation on March 8, about half of the students were able to secure employment at Hipperson.

Merriam said being involved in this program, was both fun and educational.

“I enjoyed passing along my skills and techniques to the students. I learned that as much as 40 per cent of the world’s waste is generated through the construction process, and we talked about ways to reduce waste through deconstruction rather than demolition, which I think is a tangible way to help our world.”

Biobed demonstration project

Also hailing from Canora, Greg Tomcala, Applied Research Co-ordinator for the East Central Research Foundation/Suncrest College Research Farm accepted the RCE Award for the Biobed demonstration project

“The biobed is a microbial driven digester of leftover pesticide rinseate from farm sprayers,” said Tomcala. The biobed is used to clean out the sprayer during the changeover between different chemicals and also clean out the sprayer when spraying is completed.

“The biobed allows faster turnaround for sprayer cleanout between different pesticide products and allows this to occur within a contained area with no worries of how to manage excess pesticide product in the field. The biobed allows a research farm to manage logistics and future crop/plot rotations with greater ease due to a fixed position being available to handle the excess pesticide rinseate."

The Yorkton Agri-ARM site (ECRF) led by the ECRF Board voted to implement the biobed. The ECRF research manager is Mike Hall. Research assistant Jordan Lazaroff, also of Canora, was involved in the biobed construction.

Tomcala said that receiving this award was gratifying and also helped with information transfer.

“It’s nice to get recognition and at the same time provide information about the biobed to other farmers and research farms.”

Sustainable development education

Also at the Yorkton ceremony, Canora Composite School received the Lyle Benko Future Generations Award for excellence in K-12 education for sustainable development. Jennifer Bisschop and Derek Serdachny represented CCS at the ceremony. For several years, the school has grown its own garden and is also working on kitchen renovations, both of which support sustainability.

In an earlier interview with the Canora Courier, Serdachny said the students are learning to “plant, maintain and harvest the garden throughout the year.

“A newly renovated kitchen would allow us to offer Food Studies courses and PAA (Practical and Applied Arts) courses that focus on cooking and food preparation, enhancing our students’ learning opportunities,” concluded Serdachny.

More than 300 RCE Saskatchewan awards have been presented since it was started in 2007.

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