Program cut could hurt thousands of students in Greater Victoria, say teachers

Program cut could hurt thousands of students in Greater Victoria, say teachers

WATCH: Teachers in Greater Victoria say a cut to the Sea to Stream Education Program would be detrimental to thousands of students.

Educators in Greater Victoria say they have recently learned of a major cut to the Sea to Stream Education Program, which teaches children about the life cycle of salmon.

The program gives grade school students the responsibility of raising hundreds of salmon every year and has been in place for the past 30 years.

In a press release, program organizers on Vancouver Island say the cut is in the amount of $400,000.

Teachers said they are now unsure if they will have a supply of eggs for next year.

“When they’re in Grade 6 or Grade 7, the fish that are going to be coming back in, they’re going to know that they’re responsible for them. They’re going to say they’ve made a connection with them,” Jamie Zwicker, a teacher at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Victoria, said. The school is one of the more than 100 schools in the capital region that participate in the program.

CHEK News asked Dominic LeBlanc, the federal minister responsible for fisheries and oceans, about the cuts. But LeBlanc did not confirm that the cuts would take place. Instead, he said talks are underway about alternative programs and that the change was a result of changing times and new technologies. 

“People should not be pulling the fire alarm too early and telling these valued partners for our department that we’re walking away. We’re not walking away. In fact, we’re walking towards them,” LeBlanc said. 

LeBlanc added that the current program would continue this September.

The program’s Vancouver Island co-ordinator, however, says he’s been told the cuts will take place in July. 

Proponents of the program say it builds more environmentally conscious citizens and inspires children to pursue careers in science. Teachers also say that its cancellation would harm students who do not benefit from traditional learning. 

“They set up a classroom incubator and they give the students a job, something to do with their hands, and suddenly they’re interested in other things, and suddenly they’re reading,” says Don Loewen, program coordinator for Vancouver Island. 

Teachers say they will now lobby the federal government for continued funding.

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