2018 #SFTop25 finalist - Aidan Brushett
HOMETOWN: Whitby, Ontario
TRADITIONAL TERRITORY: Unceded Anishinabek (ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᒃ), Haudenosauneega (Iroquois), and Huron-Wendat territory.
Aidan Brushett’s venture into environmental matters started when he transformed what sustainability and conservation looks like at Anderson Collegiate Vocational Institute in Whitby, Ontario.
He recruited for and grew a new school EcoTeam, which he currently leads. At Anderson CVI, Aidan and his remarkable team have implemented many initiatives for the student community, including the creation of pollinator gardens, waste reduction days, plastic bag drives and frequent events to educate and engage hundreds of students in the school on how to live harmoniously with the world around us.
Aidan didn’t stop there. He then took on something even bigger - an extensive commitment to making the Town of Whitby into a certified Bee City.
A ‘Bee City’, recognized by national NGO Bee City Canada, is a municipality with written commitment to habitat creation and community education to conserve native pollinators.
Aidan began garnering support for Bee City within his own school. He oversaw the rehabilitation of a school garden into a vibrant home for pollinators. Grade nine classes were also involved and contributed handmade ‘bee hotels’ to the garden. Using his newly-created EcoTeam, he also hosted many workshops and educational initiatives at Anderson. The work at Anderson led to recognition as the first secondary ‘Bee School’ in all of Canada.
Having established rapport within his school for the cause, Aidan began a long campaign for the Town of Whitby to do the same. He met and communicated with various local businesses and organizations to draft partnerships for his initiative, including Durham Farm Fresh, Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, General Motors Canada, Thickson’s Woods Land Trust and more.
Upon approaching the Town of Whitby, Aidan facilitated a thorough collaboration between the municipality and several of these organizations to draft lasting resolutions for biodiversity enhancement in Whitby. During the process, Aidan personally advocated and delegated with the Parks and Recreation, Operations, Planning and Development Departments, the Sustainability Advisory Committee, the City Council and Mayor. Last year, Whitby was officially declared a Bee City, the tenth in Canada, for their new commitment to pollinator conservation.
Aidan has successfully galvanized action on the municipal level, and been responsible for a lasting resolution on environmental rehabilitation and education in a town nearing 150,000 in population. He continues to work with the municipality to develop innovative projects to affect the broader community.
In conjunction with his large-scale Bee City campaign, Aidan has helped coordinate many pollinator garden plantings in the area, contributing to the plantings of over 1,000 native species to the natural landscape and engaging well over 60 volunteers. He has also been invited to speak for several local organizations and youth environmental summits on the topic of Bee City and native pollinators. Aidan has a great passion for educating fellow youth on the importance of pollinators to biodiversity, economics, and food systems. He also tied the theme of native pollinators into his ‘Beyond Talk’ conference in May 2018.
Overall, Aidan’s campaigning for Bee City Whitby has been a tremendous success, educating many and creating valuable municipal partnerships between government, citizens, and businesses alike.