Manitoba Teachers Invited to UN Commission On Sustainable Development 

Education Minister Nancy Allan today congratulated three representatives from the Frontier School Division today as they travelled to New York to present the Mel Johnson School Gardening Project to the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. 

Retired teacher Eleanor Woitowicz who started the project, Bonnie Monais who continues the gardening and assistant superintendent Don McCaskill will share details about the program that introduces students to sustainable development by helping them plant, tend and harvest their own vegetables in backyard gardens. 

The Honourable Nancy Allan

The Honourable Nancy Allan

“Projects like this are great for teaching skills such as food production, healthy eating and encouraging new generations in Manitoba’s northern communities to connect with the land,” Allan said.  “We’re proud to know Manitoba teachers are being recognized for developing this innovative project and have this opportunity to share their experiences with others.” 

The Mel Johnson School Gardening Project began in 2006 as a part of the division’s science curriculum Veggie Adventures.  Seeds sprout in a greenhouse and are transplanted into gardens around the school in Wabowden.  In a place where produce must be flown in from hundreds of miles away, the project allows children and their families to grow their own food and add fresh vegetables to their diets.  

The project was one of three selected as good practice examples by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe to be presented at this year’s Commission on Sustainability.  It was chosen out of 60 examples from over 30 countries because it demonstrates:

  • how formal education can contribute to sustainability,
  • how whole communities can contribute to sustainable practices,
  • how other communities can duplicate the project, and

how Aboriginal communities contribute and benefit from sustainability projects. 

The group from Wabowden will give a 15-minute presentation during the event tomorrow and will be part of discussions with sustainability experts. 

“It’s clear that this project has been great for Wabowden, as participation continues to increase,” said Allan.  “Students choose to remain involved even after they’ve moved on to higher grades.  Projects like these inspire teachers to find new ways to include sustainability education in their curricula and encourage students to make sustainable development a way of life.” 

The Mel Johnson School Gardening Project is an Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) initiative, using education to change social attitudes.  ESD uses hands-on learning to show students how to live in a way that balances economic, social and environmental needs. 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION