The large-water river: developing the feeling of belonging to the St.Lawrence

When teachers from Saguenay work together to develop a sense of belonging to the majestic St. Lawrence River, this results in an extraordinary educational project supported by the École en Réseau (ÉER).

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When teachers from Saguenay work together to develop a sense of belonging to the majestic St. Lawrence River, this results in an extraordinary educational project supported by the École en Réseau (ÉER).

Networked School supports the development of various projects. This was the case with The river of the great waters, from the title of the famous animated film by Frédéric Back. Nearly half a dozen teachers from the Commission scolaire des Rives-du-Saguenay joined forces with Marie-Claude Boily last January in the preparation of this project. "A first joint work on the Saguenay River took place in January 2019," says the teacher of 5e and 6e years to Fréchette school of Anse Saint-Jean. “We wanted to go further. We wanted to make the river known to young people across Quebec. "

To better tame "this great artery", Ms. Boily took care to contact Sonia Normandin, education officer at the Saguenay-Saint-Laurent Marine Park. “We are working in the same direction with a project like this one. People come to see the whales. If the whales are there, it is because there are ecosystems to be discovered. So, to make known to young people.

Presentation of the capsule by Ms. Sonia Normandin, education officer at the Saguenay-Saint-Laurent Marine Park. Photo: courtesy of Marie-Claude Boily

Thanks to the funding given by the ERA to her school board, the Saguenay teacher was able to be freed three days a week to move the project forward. Started in January, The river of the great waters produced four capsules of approximately 45 minutes (COVID-19 requires, the 5e it is on standby!). We meet there in particular Mr. Jean Cloutier, pilot on the St. Lawrence, and we discover more of the Marine Park and its various marine mammals thanks to Ms. Normandin. In addition to the production of a capsule every two weeks or so, there was also the interactive reading of the scientific tale. The browning of white whales by Boucar Diouf. There will also be the viewing, of course, of Frédéric Back's short film, a computer rally, an ethical debate around the question: how can we continue the economic development of the St. Lawrence River while respecting the environment? In the project schedule, Marie-Claude Boily and her collaborators also give suggestions for other activities related to the subject, including the discovery of the educational resource My river and me of the Monique Fitz-Back Foundation.

The pilot Jean Cloutier recounting his job in this capsule. Photo: courtesy of Marie-Claude Boily

Support from Boucar Diouf

To underline his appreciation for the project, Boucar Diouf himself sent the EER a video of his own during the launch. Marie-Claude Boily is also grateful to Vincent Gagnon, EER coordinator, for having managed to approach the comedian-biologist's team for this very special request. It is also one of the roles of the EER to provide support to teachers. Very often, “it's technical support,” explains Mr. Gagnon. We are there to take note of the teachers' needs. We are also there to compile emails, to send them to participants. For the presenters, "it's also reassuring," according to Ms. Normandin, since it allows them to think of something other than technique.

So, did this belonging to the St. Lawrence and its knowledge developed in children? Why not give them the last word on this!

It was interesting, because I discovered a lot of things on the river. It makes me proud to live here! 

- Charlie-Rose Capistran, 10 years old, in connection with the capsules of Mrs. Sonia Normandin

It was really fun, I learned what the Saguenay-Saint-Laurent Marine Park is for and why it exists.

I got to know the profession of pilot better on the St. Lawrence with Mr. Jean Cloutier. "

- Gabrielle Gagnon, 11 years old, in connection with the capsules of Ms. Sonia Normandin and Mr. Jean Cloutier

I found the profession of pilot impressive. There are things that we did not expect, especially the all icy boat which was not made for the winter, because it came from another country! 

- Mattéo Lévesque, 11 years old, in connection with the capsule of Mr. Jean Cloutier
Some students' drawings illustrating this large-water river that is the St. Lawrence. Photo: courtesy of Marie-Claude Boily

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About the Author

André Magny
André Magny
For more than 30 years, André Magny has been going back and forth between journalism and teaching French to teenagers and adults alike. Freelance freelance writer for various media including Francopresse, he was also a cultural journalist at Law in Ottawa and in charge of new technologies at Soleil de Québec. He also did sports journalism in France. He has a weakness for the Francophonie, culture, sports, cuisine and politics.

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