Mindil Beach will perform during the Off the Grid festival at Claremont secondary April 17. The concert is free and open to the public from 3 to 5 p.m.

Saanich festival empowers green youth

Youth Climate Action Summit and Off the Grid Music Festival at Claremont secondary April 17

Organizers expect an empowering environmental youth festival to draw hundreds of students from as far afield as the Lower Mainland to Claremont secondary.

“We’re attracting a lot of students from across the province,” said Grade 12 student Jeff Lewis-Manning, among the organizers of the 4th Annual YesBC Youth Climate Action Summit and Off the Grid Music Festival at Claremont.

The festival shifts to Claremont from the West Shore where it was held near the end of May for the past three years and included the Fort Rodd Hill outdoor venue for the concert. Claremont offers a more weather-proof indoor venue for the April 17 summit and festival.

“We found that even at the end of May it was a bit late to catch the senior students, who are busy with exams then,” said Judy Fainstein, founder of YesBC (Youth for Environmental Stewardship). “We’re trying something different this year, and everything’s going to be at the school, Claremont secondary. We hope the students take more ownership of the event.”

She hopes to hit 200 to 300 students this year with the by-registration summit for middle and secondary students during the day, and the public concert after school hours.

“A lot of this is student-led so it’s been an evolving thing, where over the years little by little students have taken on more leadership roles,” Fainstein said.

Topics for the student-led workshops this year include green careers, food security, youth activism and social media for social change.

Claremont will utilize its work at Haliburton Farm as its session during the summit, taking a group out for a tour of the farm.

Other area schools including Reynolds and Oak Bay are set to present among the 12 workshops organized so far.

“It’s providing students with great leadership opportunities because not only are we facilitating workshops, people will be giving presentations and we’ve been organizing everything,” Lewis-Manning said. “Engaging the community is a big part of it. We’re basically ambassadors for YesBC and the community.”

Guests include Saanich-Gulf Island MP Elizabeth May, Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver and Saanich South MLA Lana Popham.

“I think as a community we really need to come together and focus on environmental problems especially within our community. It really helps raise awareness,” said Lewis-Manning, also a member of the Institute for Global Solutions. “It really brings a whole bunch of awareness that attracts groups from all over. We have a bunch of powerful speakers coming in.”

The day winds up with the Off The Grid festival that celebrates youth empowerment in environmental stewardship, with live music, art, demonstrations and information booths from local sustainability leaders. Local bands Mindil Beach and Carmanah will perform this year on the stage run entirely on human and solar power.

“I’m looking forward to the whole bike stage that’s going to power everything,” Lewis-Manning said.

The community is invited for the free Off the Grid Festival starting at 3 p.m. at Claremont school, 4980 Wesley Rd.

To register youth for the summit visit yesbc.ca.


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