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On Tour

May 03, 2012

Spirit Bears & Tree Climbing
Posted by Caitlyn Vernon

Caitlyn Vernon

On May 2nd I began a tour of schools in the Lower Mainland.  We started at Chief Maquinna Elementary in East Vancouver.  I grew up in East Van and it felt like I was coming home, entering a school not far from my old neighbourhood.  I was pleased to be there, to share stories and photos and talk about my book Nowhere Else on Earth: Standing Tall for the Great Bear Rainforest.  The highlight of school visits, for me, is always the questions from students.  To witness the imagination, the unexpected tangents, the creativity, the interest in this planet that we all call home.  I hope with my book to inspire and spark curiosity in the Great Bear Rainforest and in our own backyards, to encourage readers to pay attention to what is happening around them and to get involved, to know that they can make a difference.  I love to see the looks on students faces when I tell them that barnacles are stuck to the rock with their heads and eat with their feet, or when I tell the story of how a 12 year old mobilized his entire community to protect a forest, or when I ask them to imagine being able to jump 5 times their own height like some microscopic soil creatures are able to do.  Truly this coast is full of wonder, and there are so many things to be amazed by when we stop to look around.  At this particular school, we talked a lot about spirit bears and climbing trees.

In the afternoon I was scheduled to talk with students at Westview Elementary in North Vancouver.  Unfortunately, just as I had set up my presentation in the library, the fire alarm went off!  This was no fire drill, there was actually a fire.  All the children filed out to the gravel playing field and sat down in rows, thankful that the rain had temporarily stopped.  We spent an hour waiting outside, surrounded by no less than 4 firetrucks, 2 ambulances, and 4 police cars.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  The fire was put out and all the kids safe.  While I was disappointed to not speak with the students, I was left with a sense of huge respect for all the teachers around this province who look after our children with such responsibility and caring.  They do more than just teach curriculum, they are mentors and caregivers and so much more.  Looking back, I can still name the teachers who most touched my life and I am so grateful for all that they offered me. 

We left a copy of my book at the school, and let them know that a curriculum-linked resource guide has been developed, with activities that teachers can use to bring my book into the classroom.  The resource guide can be downloaded for free from the book’s website at http://www.GreatBearRainforest.ca

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