We are incredibly thankful for the help of our partners and all those who had a hand in making our FrancOcéan Pacifique program possible. This project was a collaborative initiative taking place between Francophone youth in British Columbia and in New Caledonia. The province-wide project engaged students in grades six to nine in British Columbia and sixth to third in New Caledonia.
The idea of FrancOcéan Pacifique was to connect British Columbia and New Caledonia youth via a collaborative, interactive ocean study program, which included educational booklets, exchanging of Indigenous knowledge, and preparatory worksheets and videos. In support of these educational activities, a website was created to promote and to prepare the youth for the central events: the live dives.
Two live dives took place—one in B.C. and one in New Caledonia. These were designed to be interactive, educational and accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. There were over 793 views of our live dive in Campbell River and 325 views of the dive in New Caledonia. However, a large amount of these views may represent an entire classroom of students!
The first dive on September 26, 2016 took place at the mouth of Campbell River on Vancouver Island—the salmon capital of the world—during the time of year that salmon travel back upstream to reproduce. It was conducted entirely in French. Project team members Julie Holsworth and Céline Modschiedler fielded students’ questions from across B.C. as well as parts of New Caledonia such as Dumbéa, Paîta and Ouvéa.
The thirty minute livestream was packed full of educational material about salmon. It carried valuable lessons about the unifying properties of the ocean—not only between British Columbia and New Caledonia, but all oceanic communities.
The second dive happened on November 17, 2016. It was hosted by Cécile Fauvelot from the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement and Joanna Mara and Nicolas Rafecas from the Centre de l’Initiation à l’Environnement. The stream took place from an aquarium in New Caledonia with footage of aquatic life interspersed throughout.
In order to protect, one must first be knowledgeable about what one is protecting. As such, we dove right into the process of photosynthesis to the dynamics of the ecosystems of the Coral Sea (off the west coast of New Caledonia). The power and importance of the sea and the necessity of taking care of the ocean animals and their habitat was stressed during this live stream, interspersed with beautiful shots of coral and sea life from the dive. You can view both of the dives on the project website here.
FrancOcéan Pacifique has been a very successful educational program connecting Francophone youth with each other and with the ocean. The program has been delightfully captured in a special French language edition of PPP’s Tok Blong Pasifik Journal that will be sent out to all the students who were a part of the initiative. This magazine is also available in a PDF format on the website for anyone to view.
If these young students can understand the natural balancing act that takes place in different ecosystems, not just in the ocean but all environments as well, then they can also see how the actions of humans can upset these balances. Connecting youth to the ocean and teaching the importance of protecting the environment and the life that it supports is of great importance. We are at a critical moment for our climate and for our ability to prevent irreparable damage to our environment.
FrancOcéan Pacifique was a wonderful part of doing just that: it not only connected students with other students from around the world, it helped connect students to the ocean and the incredibly diverse environment and life that it supports. The more that young people grow up caring for and connected to the natural world, the more we can hope future generations will strive to protect it.
We rely on donations to make programming like this possible. Please donate today to support our climate change and education programs.