The story of Redfish

We are at a critical point in time and we have a critical decision to make now: Will we continue to violate the earth and experience the anthropogenic ecological crisis, or will we change our course and work collectively to become a sustainable society?

Robert Wright, 2004

The Redfish School of Change is a non-profit program that developed through a shared recognition that the world is in a troubled state, and that it deeply needs people, in their own communities and bioregions, to facilitate positive change.

Many young people are already directing society onto paths of greater ecological sustainability and social equity, leading us through a much-needed revolution in human consciousness. We looked to these leaders to help us design this program.

We began with a focus group of young activists in western Canada. Building on their experience and insight, we created a foundation for the program’s design. We also met with alumni of innovative environmental and social justice education programs. Those meetings, combined with the initial focus group, inspired the field school model on which the Redfish School of Change is based.

Extensive market research gave the program more insight into the needs of potential participants. GreenLearning Canada, the University of Victoria’s School of Environmental Studies, and Pearson College — the three partners who initially collaborated on Redfish School of Change — brought to the table a long history of environmental research and education, with delivery in both formal and non-formal settings.

Why Call it the Redfish School of Change

The Chinese see the redfish as a sign of good fortune and prosperity. Poems of Celtic origin depict the redfish as a symbol of wisdom and knowledge. Of course, Dr. Seuss knew a redfish, and indeed it is a common term for many fish: the deep-sea Sebastes, the reef-dwelling snappers, the slimeheads or roughies, and the alfonsinos.

Redfish comes from the native word Kokanee, which is a landlocked cousin of the sockeye salmon found in the interior of British Columbia — where this field school first began its journey, in the Slocan Valley. Sockeye salmon are an icon in British Columbia, and those that spawn in the Fraser River are endangered. As the program makes its run down the Fraser River from Hope to Vancouver, we explore the past, present and future of this watershed.

As a school of change, we are a community seeking to learn from the ways of nature and patterns of history, and to live the possibilities of a better future. Creating change is a journey much like swimming upstream: it involves leaping up waterfalls, navigating past nets, and stopping to rest for awhile in an eddy. Creating change takes many strategies and some creative thinking. It means working alone and within the larger group that is walking the same path. It also means journeying back home to initiate new ideas, challenges and solutions.