Art with a mes­sage

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - News Cause. We Paint for a

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.

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