Volume 12 Week 5

Friday, Feb. 23


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(Posted 8:30 a.m., May 26)
Gisèle-Lalonde solar greenhouse dedicated to young cancer victim

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

The Maisonneuve family were on hand for the official unveiling of La serre solaire de Karyne which is the culmination of the third an final phase of Projet Karyne. Ottawa Sun/Photo

It's been nearly six years since Karyne Maissoneuve passed away from complications with her cancer treatment at the age of eight.

Since then she has inspired a movement that has helped put Ecole secondaire Gisele-Lalonde on the map as one of the leading environmentally conscious high schools in the province.

Projet Karyne was launched in her memory in 2007 by her parents Carl and Mary-Lou and siblings Elyse, Paul and Marc.

The first project they took on was the installation of a wind turbine and solar panels in 2007.

After the wind turbine and solar panels were installed Project Karyne set out to establish a number of programs and initiatives aimed at raising awareness about the environment and the impact of climate change.

Some of the projects included an annual multi-school solar car and solar boat race; the creation of several clubs at the school including Club Aéro-Solaire, Club Environment and Gang du Projet Karyne; the creation of the Enviro-Café and the organization of various carbon footprint activities.

The most ambitious project was the construction of a solar-powered greenhouse classroom at a projected cost of $200,000. Two years in the making, the La serre solaire de Karyne was officially unveiled on Thursday.

The greenhouse boasts innovative technologies including solar water and air heating systems, a rainwater recovery system and a passive geothermal air-conditioning system.

The greenhouse was built thanks to a number of large donations from a variety of sources. Earth Day Canada contributed $18,000, TD Canada Trust $10,000 and Caisse populaire Trillium $3,000.

Interlock Roofing from Orléans donated a metal roof and installed it for a total contribution of $14,000. The Guindon family, owners of the Great Outdoors landscaping company, provided all the excavation and lanscaping services free of charge.

Mary-Lou Maissoneuve says the greenhouse wouldn't have been possible without the generous support of local businsses. Nearly half the cost of the project was provided through in-kind donations.

"The generosity has been overwhelming," says Maisonneuve. "The Guindon family was at the site every weekend on their own time, finishing the landscaping."

The French public school board announced at the unveiling that they will be providing an additional $35,000 to complete the project by next fall.

The greenhouse will be used by students in the school's highly-skilled major environmental program who want to branch into the sciences or environmental studies. It will also be used to to teach general units in a variety of curses.

The greenhouse is being completed just as the last Maisonneuve sibling is graduating from the school. Marc wants to become a teacher, Paul is currently in his second year at the University of Ottawa where he is studying civil engineering and Elyse plans to start her masters degree at Bishops next year,

With the third and final phase of Projet Karyne now complete, the Maisonneuve family is ready to turn the project over to the school.

"We're feeling kin of exhausted right now. But we've received e-mails from a number of teachers and parents saying their not going to let it die and it sounds like the school wants to keepit going. I'm sure we'll still be involved in some way, but we'd be thrilled if the school takes it over," says Mary-Lou.

Those sentiments were echoed by French public school board director Edith Dumont at the unveiling.

"Carl and Mary Lou, thanks for everything. Your Karyne touched us, she inspired us, she guided us, and she'll never be forgotten." said Dumont.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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Posted Jan. 12

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