JAC Green Team
The Green Team is a group of student volunteers looking to make a difference when it comes to sustainability at the college. The Team helps out at Sustainability events and is also responsible for teaching JAC students and employees about waste sorting at events. Thanks to the Green Team, it is easier for event organizers to divert most of their materials from landfill and, in some cases, host zero waste events. Students can use these hours to contribute to requirements for the Student Involvement Recognition Certificate (SIR) and towards the Environmental Studies Certificate.
The Sprout House
The Sprout House is an indoor vegetable growing space located in the Anne-Marie Edward science building of John Abbott College. It is composed of microgreen shelves and hydroponic towers. Microgreens are essentially seedlings that are just past their sprouting phase. These little plants are about fifty times more nutritious than in their mature state under the same weight, so they provide more health benefits to the consumer. The hydroponic towers are composed of a water basin, a pump, a system of tubing and the outer shell which has spots to allow 80 plants to grow.
The Sprout House was created with the intention of helping the John Abbott community by providing fresh produce to students facing food insecurity who are relying on John Abbott’s “JAC Pantry”, educating people about indoor hydroponic gardening and sustainable living and creating a calming green space on campus, all while furthering John Abbott’s contributions to the United Nation’s Sustainable Developmental Goals. In Fall 2022, The Sprout House won the provincial “Forces Avenir” award for best Environment project.
JAC Harvest Garden
Our campus vegetable garden is run by the JAC Harvest club. Created in 2013, the garden is located between the Hochelaga and AME buildings. Funding from this student-initiative project was provided through a grant from the City of Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue’s Sustainability Fund. Each year, students grow plants from seed indoors and transplant them to the garden in Spring. Produce is given to the JAC Pantry for students facing food insecurity.
In addition to the JAC Harvest garden club, John Abbott also has an environment club (Eco-JAC), a Rock Climbing club and an Outdoor Adventure Club.
Eco-JAC is a club for students to learn about and teach fellow students about sustainability practices. The Rock Climbing and Outdoor Adventure Club organize climbing, hiking and camping outings for their members. Both practice the “Leave No Trace” principle.
This student lounge was given a “makeover” upon the students’ return to in-person classes, in order to create a quiet and calm space for them to study, eat lunch or just relax. A green wall was installed on one end of the room, and the space was filled with large plants and lounge chairs. The plants are maintained by the Eco-JAC student club.
Events and Outreach Campaigns
During the month of April, the Sustainability Committee engages students and staff to participate in the Earth Month Eco-Challenge. Offered by Ecochallenge.org, this challenge proposes daily or one-time actions, for which participants earn points and compete against other teams across North America. In April 2022, John Abbott’s team was the highest-ranking school team in Canada, and had the following positive impacts
(see photo). Source: Ecochallenge.org
Every year, Makers’ Week is held in the Fall semester. In 2022, approximately 300 students participated. The students were enthusiastic about learning to knit, crochet, darn and sew, even when they found these activities more challenging than they expected. Students repeatedly mentioned that they enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the chance to decompress.
According to event organizers Tom Young and Candis Steenbergen (Humanities), one of the goals of Makers’ Week is to build a community based on a different vision of connection – where there is a spirit of camaraderie as we all pursue activities that might seem outdated, tedious or pointless, but which connect us to a long history of crafting and débrouillage. Knitting a few rows is not going to save the world but learning to knit could shift your outlook so that you see the things you wear differently, with more respect for the work that goes into creating something.
SDG Awareness Campaign
In Spring of 2021, a campaign was launched to promote the SDGs to the College community. Posts were created and added to the school’s internal portal every two days, with links to information and relevant library resources. Students created an Instagram page to promote the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and to compliment the portal posts. Every two weeks, the library posted a virtual shelf on their website, focusing on books and films related to one of the SDGs. Student representatives from the working group then created a promotional 3-minute video about the SDGs for Colleges and Institutes Canada’s (CICan) SDG Thought Forum. The video can be found in CICan’s SDG Toolkit.
The campaign also included a virtual inter-collegial talk given by Professor Charles Hopkins, the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability. This presentation focused on the role of higher education institutions in the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
In Spring 2022, the Sustainability Committee launched a campaign to encourage students to speak out about overcrowding on the popular 419 bus line that brings students to campus. A student-designed poster was printed on sandwich boards at the bus station, displaying the message “Improve bus 419!” Students were given a direct URL to the Société de transport de Montreal’s (STM) complaints form on their website and encouraged to make a complaint. A follow-up campaign was done in the Fall of that year, when the STM conducted a consultation on their bus routes.
Indigenous Climate Justice and Action Speaker Series
The Indigenous Climate Justice and Action speaker series took place over the course of Winter 2021. It sought to allow a space for participants to re-imagine how we conceive of, envision, and tackle the climate crisis. The series opened with Sheila Watt-Cloutier exposing the impact of climate change on Inuit life and culture, while celebrating the strength of an Inuit worldview as a reason for hope. Marlene Hale then brought the discussion to the ongoing realities of Wet’suwet’en opposition to the Coastal GasLink pipeline, before Iako’tsi:rareh Amanda Lickers taught us to see the violation of the land as a violation of the body. Finally, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson exemplified the power of storytelling practice in re-imagining the roles of Indigenous blockades through their parallels to the vital ecological role of our cousin, the beaver.
Forward Momentum Speaker Series
The Forward Momentum speaker series took place during the Winter 2021 term. Four speakers joined us from across North America. The theme: how to go beyond individual action and lend our voice to collective efforts seeking large-scale change. Seth Wynes, a post-doctoral fellow at Concordia University shed light on how to effectively push our representatives to change laws. Tzeporah Berman of Stand.earth spoke about the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty that is making waves around the world. Durwood Zaelke and Romina Picolotti of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development in Washington talked about the how we can make fast reductions in our emissions by targeting some of the more powerful non-carbon greenhouse gases, building on the success of the Montreal Protocol banning CFCs.