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Squamish climate action through art

Brackendale Elementary School students' at-risk marine animal art on display at The Artisan Gallery.

Eleven-year-old Clara Frantz chose a long-snouted seahorse, while her classmate Levi Lundstrom chose the narwhal. 

The Brackendale Elementary School Grade 6 students took part in an ocean mural art project that is currently on display at The Artisan Gallery. 

"It's definitely worth going by," said Karen Saenger, principal of Brackendale Elementary, "because it is spectacular. I went at night and with the lights on ... and [it] was really spectacular."

The mural project began last year as part of a year-long look at climate action and involved students from Grades 5 and 6 picking a marine animal to study and later recreating those animals as art made out of plastics. 

The goal is to raise awareness about the impacts of plastic pollution in the ocean.

 "We started by in general talking about species at risk in Howe Sound — so looking at local species at risk, and then broadening to more of the global scale. And each student chose one animal that was at risk that they wanted to further investigate. They did that investigation, learned about what were some of the specific causes that were putting that species at risk. And we've focused largely on the issue of plastic pollution," said teacher Jamie Mowbray.

Students in teacher Alec Zigar's class were also involved with this project. 

Franz said she learned "lots of interesting things" about seahorses, while Lundstrom said he learned "just how few" narwhals there are left. 

The students were then each given an approximately one-metre by one-metre square (three-foot by three-foot) of cardboard as the canvas on which to create their own artwork.

They started collecting plastic materials at home. 

The classes also had magazines they could cut up and some plastic donations, such as spoons from 2 Chill Gelato. 

Mowbray noted that due to COVID protocols, there was more plastic around, including gloves and other PPE. 

Frantz said for her piece, she used, among other things, chip bags, gum packages and egg cartons. 

Lundstrom said for his project, he "just grabbed my recycling bin" at home and used what he found.

"Then we spent almost a month just in the process of building those art pieces. So, using hot glue to glue on the materials to form the animals," Mowbray said. 

Franz said she learned more about plastic and its impact through the project. 

"I learned the different processes of when you throw out your plastic and what are the processes of where it goes and how breaks down kind of and how it impacts the animals," she said. 

The art pieces are for sale — one has already sold — with proceeds going to Squamish Climate Action Network

The students' work is on display until April 5 at The Artisan beside the Squamish Public Library

To purchase a piece of the mural, please contact the school at: 604-898-3651.