The Big Pull
The vision we have for a more sustainable Canada is one where citizens participate in an Invasive Species Pull every International day of Biodiversity (May 22nd) in the same way they would also partake in Earth Day cleanups. If everyone knew how to identify invasive species and remove them, we would dramatically help the natural landscape. It is our vision that Garlic Mustard is eradicated (or close to!) in Canada. More realistically, we’d like to see every school in Halton participae in the Big Pull on the same date with us in their own neighbourhoods. This issue is of particular importance to our community because we share a large forest, McCraney Creek, in our neighbourhood which has seen a reduction in biodiversity due to an increase in Garlic Mustard.
For the last 5 years we have done small scale Garlic Mustard pulls in the McCraney Creek. Over the last 2 years we’ve gone bigger and had 4 other schools get involved with the removal. Organized by 3 lead students, The Big Pull has increased our community’s awareness and identification of Garlic Mustard. Ayah, Sophia and Amanda made posters, gave a slideshow, organized zones of the forest and ran the Big Pull. This year, on International day of Biodiversity, we had over 500 participants, volunteers from our nearby high school and many community partners participate! We removed 73 garbage bags full of Garlic Mustard from the forest! We had another student team that filmed the whole process to create a documentary short which screened at the Halton Green Screens Amateur film festival at a local theater.
Reflection & Celebration
There were a lot of moving parts and student teams involved in this process and when everyone wasn’t at a meeting people it was challenging to keep everyone one the same page, especially if people missed meetings. There were also differing opinions on how the film should look. Finally, since our event was so late in the year, we were really pressed for time to finish and edit the film in time for deadlines. We were able to have extensions on some but unfortunately had to miss others.
We celebrated with everyone (students, teachers, parents, volunteers, etc.) piling their garlic mustard bags in the middle, a large group photo and a few “Big Pull” chants. We also recognized everyone’s contribution on the announcements. The film was screened at a local theater as part of Halton Green Screens festival which we attended as a team. Finally, HEN plans to share the video with their network and on their Youtube channel.