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Tagwi student asks David Suzuki about memories of his father

Media Release
Upper Canada District School Board

Tagwi student asks David Suzuki about memories of his father
While students from across Canada asked Canadian icon David Suzuki environmental questions Wednesday, Meghan Lalonde wanted to get more personal. The 16-year-old Tagwi Secondary School student asked the author and television personality what he would do with his late father if he were alive today for only one day.
PHOTO CREDIT - ClosetCanuck.com

Avonmore - Nov. 7, 2011 - While students from across Canada asked Canadian icon David Suzuki environmental questions Wednesday, Meghan Lalonde wanted to get more personal.

The 16-year-old Tagwi Secondary School student asked the author and television personality what he would do with his late father if he were alive today for only one day.

Lalonde was one of only 20 students from across the nation given the honour of posing a question to Suzuki during his Virtual Classroom, two nationwide Web conferences held Tuesday and Wednesday involving students at 200 schools across Canada. The event was organized by the David Suzuki Foundation and the National Film Board (NFB) to discuss the NFB’s new documentary about Suzuki’s life entitled A Force of Nature. The film discusses Suzuki’s life from his Japanese family’s internment in the Second World War to his days broadcasting about environmental issues such as the liquidation of the Bluefin tuna population.

The Grade 11 student posed her question because, as with other students who participated in the event, she had watched the film in preparation for the conference. In it, Suzuki spoke fondly of his father and his passions such as fishing and gardening.

Lalonde wished to know more about the man who was such a large part of Suzuki’s life and inspired such fond memories.

“He talked (in the film) about how he went hiking with his dad and how his dad always asked David to garden with him,” she said.

Suzuki, who idolized his father, said he would take the time to mine the knowledge of the man he referred to as his “great hero and teacher.”

Interestingly, the Canadian environmentalist said he would want to ask his father about why his grandparents immigrated to Canada from Japan in the first place, when early 20th Century Canada was not the open, accepting society it is today.

In fact, during the Second World War, Suzuki’s family was interned with other Japanese Canadians in camps because of a fear of enemy infiltrators on the home front - one of the darkest chapters in our nation’s history.

“I would ask him, “Why did they ever come to Canada?” said the outspoken environmentalist of his grandparents. “Canada was very racist back then to Orientals.

“And why did they ever stay here? I really wish I had that knowledge about my family background.”

The environmentalist talked about the knowledge his father had about cars, noting he never feared going on a long trip in their Ford Model A as a child because he knew his dad could fix anything under the hood.

While his dad was a “Mr. Fix It”, his mother was equally handy in the kitchen and knew how to bottle everything from apples to fish to keep them fresh for the family dinner table.

While his parents remained in Canada, sadly Suzuki said many of his relatives chose to return to Japan after the war, taking a ship that dropped them off in Hiroshima, later resulting in their untimely deaths.

During the session, Suzuki also talked about the need to reduce our carbon footprint, to limit our output of garbage and to preserve natural ecosystems from development. He suggested students take on their own environmental projects to make the world a better place such as joining environmental clubs, creating butterfly gardens at school, or even just picking up a piece of garbage each day and putting it in the waste bin.

He also discussed the value of gaining first-hand knowledge from elders rather than just searching the Web or reading books about earlier times.

It was this aspect of the session that resonated most with Lalonde.

“I think I will be spending a lot more time with my Nan now,” she said of her grandmother.

The involvement of Tagwi students was organized by Tagwi teacher Sarah Menard.


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