Art with a message
BY STEVEN WARBURTON
Staff Don’t give Jonah Doniewski any tickets to the circus this Christmas.
The Grade 8 student at St. Finnan’s Catholic School in Alexandria will flat out refuse to go, unless it’s a circus that doesn’t use animals for entertainment.
“Lions and tigers are forced to jump through flaming hoops even though they are naturally afraid of fire,” says Jonah. “And the elephants are kept chained up and confined.”
Jonah and the rest of his Grades 7 and 8 classmates were challenged to create an art project on the theme
Teacher Jennifer Terry explains that it was part of a We Day initiative designed to help the kids broaden their sense of social justice. It worked and now the front hall of St. Finnan’s is filled with artwork that calls attention to everything from child abuse to the discrepancy in salaries between teachers and hockey players.
Jonah’s painting shows a lion dressed as a clown. The idea is that lions are not naturally born circus performers and should be left alone.
He isn’t the only one to be inspired by animal problems. Grade 7 student Zachary Baron created an anti-poaching painting. His work depicts an angry rhinoceros and the slogan: “Hunting isn’t a sport. In a sport, both teams know they’re in the game.”
Young Zacahary’s research turned up some disturbing statistics. In 2012, for example, 688 elephants were killed just so their tusks could be used to make jewelry and other accessories. He says that elephants, rhinos, sea turtles, tigers, and gorillas have all been poached, sometimes merely as trophy kills.
He says the world’s worst poaching problem is in South Africa. Although he says that country is taking measures to improve the situation, he says people in Canada can also do things to make it better. One of them is to stop buying products that were made possible by poaching.
RJ Antipolo, also in Grade 7, created a piece of art that calls out corporations who profit from child labour. He says that in 2016, there were 218 million child labourers in the world and that many work in hazardous conditions.
“Twenty-two thousand children die each year because of accidents,” he says, adding that people can help by purchasing fair trade products.
Fritzee Fabros, a Grade 8 student, chose to focus on the lingering effects of racism. She looked at racism in Australia – particularly between whites and aboriginals – and noted that more than 800 students in that country found that racism had a huge effect on their mental health.
“They have a constant fear of being physically or verbally attacked,” she says. “Many of them only trust their families. It reduces their ability to study hard and they are often denied jobs and access to services.”
At a more local level, Grade 8 student Rick Laflamme chose to champion organ donation. Inspired by Logan Boulet, the former Humboldt Bronco who, along with more than a dozen teammates, was fatally injured in a bus collision in Saskatchewan earlier this year.
Logan’s organ donation saved six lives. That’s something Rick believes in as he learned that at least 20 people die everyday waiting for organs.
You have to be 16 to be an organ donor and that’s something Rick intends to be as soon as he is of age. He encourages everyone else to take similar measures.