The CBC Television camera and crew were in place and ready to roll. CBC host George Stroumboulopoulos and legendary Canadian environmental activist David Suzuki were in position, backed by a scenic vista of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Magdalen Islands. On a signal from the director, “Strombo” turned and looked past Suzuki to address the unassuming and mostly unknown man standing alongside.
“So, Sean, what are your impressions?” he asked.
“Sean” is teacher Sean Barfoot of Port Hardy’s Eagle View Elementary, who last month joined Suzuki and Stroumboulopoulos for a tour of the islands as the winner of Air Canada’s “Do-Gooder Adventure” contest.
Barfoot presented a slide show of his experience at the regular June meeting of the School District 85 Board of Trustees and recounted being part of the CBC web report on the trip.
“I was so nervous in front of the camera,” Barfoot admitted. “But they made me look good, through editing. They involved me in all the shots; I felt like a celebrity.”
Barfoot was actually entered into the Do-Gooder Adventure contest by his girlfriend, Michelle Huisman. He was selected by a CBC committee that included Stroumboulopoulos, who told Barfoot the network received more than a thousand entries. Having no knowledge of the contest, much less that he’d been entered, it came as something of a surprise when he was notified of his win.
“I answered the phone and they said ‘You won the contest,'” Barfoot said. “I said, ‘What do you mean?’ But Michelle was jumping around and screaming.”
Barfoot was selected in part for his work with students at Eagle View in the Nature Patrol, a composting project, and the fishing club. His class also videotaped a debate on renewable energy and an oil-tanker exclusion zone for the North Island, which Barfoot showed Suzuki during the trip to the gulf.
He also presented Suzuki with a copy of Kaouk the Trailer-park Sea Lion, a book published by students at Port Alice’s Sea View Elementary about the sea lion pup that was found in the village’s trailer park and rescued last year.
“David was very impressed,” Barfoot said.
He also showed a photo of a large poster his students made, showing Barfoot, Suzuki and Stroumboulopoulos astride a small model of Earth, along with Barfoot’s dog, Harvey.
“They loved it,” said Barfoot, who was accompanied on the trip by Michelle. “Both of them wanted a picture of the poster.”
Suzuki visited the Magdalen Islands, a low, wind- and wave-swept archipelago, at the request of fishermen and residents interested in protecting the Gulf of Saint Lawrence from offshore oil drilling. The islands, which have a population of about 12,000, are situated between the five provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The first four have a moratorium on drilling in their coastal waters, but Newfoundland does not and has been actively exploring potential drilling sites.
“(Suzuki) was asked by the community to come and solve their problem and bring publicity.”
Everywhere that Suzuki, Stroumboulopoulos and their camera crew went, Barfoot was right with them, and he was included in the on-camera interviews.
He particularly enjoyed the downtime between shots on the three-day excursion, when he was able to chat one-on-one with Suzuki about both environmental education and fishing.
“Michelle really got along with Strombo because they have similar interests, especially music,” Barfoot said. “David and I talked fishing.
“It was wonderful being one-on-one with him.”
CBC’s webcast of the trip can be viewed online at www.cbc.ca/strombo/show-video/web-exclusive-air-canada-contest-do-gooder-win.html