Education

Meet The Water Brothers!

Meet The Water Brothers!

Tyler and Alex Mifflin didn’t start out as The Water Brothers, but a passion for water conservation and backgrounds in film and environmental studies respectively led them to create, host and produce this award-winning eco-adventure documentary series.

Now in its third season on TVO, The Water Brothers follows Alex and Tyler as they explore the world, uncovering the most important water stories of our time. We caught up with the brothers in Toronto to discuss season three and the simple changes Canadians can make to help our planet.

Vervegirl: For those who might not know about the show, tell us a bit about The Water Brothers.

Tyler: Each episode explores and focuses on a different environmental issue related to water, whether it’s our oceans, fresh water resources, access to clean water and sanitation issues, or issues surrounding climate change. We want to take viewers on an adventure and show them how water connects us all, is vital to everything we do and how we can become part of the solution to these issues we face.

VG: You feature Canadian and international issues on the show, what are some examples of the domestic water issues we face?

Photo courtesy of The Water Brothers.

Photo courtesy of The Water Brothers.

Alex: All of the big environmental issues affect us here and plastic pollution is an issue we’ve looked at a lot. We did an episode about bottled water and all of the waste that it creates, with over 65 million plastic bottles going to the City of Toronto’s landfills each year. It’s hundreds of millions of bottles per year around the world.

We also have a lot of communities in Canada that don’t have access to clean water and  sanitation, surprisingly. This most disproportionately affects First Nations communities. One in five First Nations Communities in Canada don’t have access to clean water and sanitation. These are issues we usually think of in other places like Africa or India, but we’re dealing with them here in our own backyard.

VG: In addition to water conservation, are there any other causes that are close to your hearts?

Alex: Social issues like poverty and women’s rights. We did an episode, “No Woman, No Water”, where we went to Kenya and Tanzania to look at the clean water crisis as it applies to East Africa. What became obvious to us is that women in the developing world are tasked with gathering water for their families. When they don’t have reliable access to clean water and sanitation, it’s hours each day these women can’t go to school or get a job. When you build a well or toilet you’re saving women hours and hours each week that they can now spend in school.

Tyler: Proper sanitation is a huge issue [relating to women’s rights]. When girls get their periods they often don’t go to school for the week because there’s a lot of stigma against menstruation. Bringing access to clean water and sanitation actually empowers these women and strengthens the whole community.

VG: You see a lot of ways that society is taking advantage of our resources. Conversely, what are some things we’re doing right? What are positive changes that have been made in the last few years?

Alex: We’ve made huge strides with our marine reserves. It wasn’t that long ago that there was less than one percent of the ocean protected now almost three percent is protected. Every couple of months we see countries competing to establish larger reserves, which is really encouraging. There’s still a lot of work to be done to ensure that they’re being managed properly, but the fact that they are establishing the reserves is encouraging. We also see signs that where they control fishing we see the fisheries [marine life] come back.

Another sign of progress is the government initiatives to ban microbeads in beauty products. Both the Ontario Liberal party and the national Liberal and NDP party are working on putting together a motion to ban microbeads. This is also happening in the US. But, because of how bans work, it could be three or four years before these products are actually phased out.

Tyler: Generally, youth awareness of environmental issues is increasing which is encouraging. We do a lot of speaking in schools and we’re so impressed with the amount of knowledge that students have compared to 10 years ago when we were in school. How much more people are educated and becoming aware of these issues and engaged in the solution. It’s encouraging to see that general knowledge base and that the students care.

Catch The Water Brothers Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. EST on TVO or watch episodes online at waterbrothers.ca. Stay up to date on Alex and Tyler’s latest adventures on Twitter @thewaterbros or on Facebook.

Tips for applying to post-secondary school

Tips for applying to post-secondary school

So you’ve decided what you’d like to study after high school and you’re ready to apply to university or college. Now what? You’ve got questions and we’ve got answers.

Where do I apply?
You may pine for a certain school, but most good institutions receive countless applications and competition can be fierce. Therefore, apply to at least six schools, ranking your selections into three categories.

  1. Reach schools: Here is where you dream big. Include schools that are your top choices but may be a long shot, perhaps due to your grades or strong competition for a limited number of seats.
  2. Probable schools: You know with confidence that you meet these schools’ admission requirements.
  3. Safety schools: These are your back-up options – schools where you exceed the requirements.

 

Can I afford it?
If your folks can’t foot the bill, apply for financial aid, even if you think you might not be approved. Ask your guidance counsellor for information on scholarships and start to sock away money from any part-time job you may have. There are different payment plans at different schools. Call their financial aid offices to get a clearer picture of the bottom line.

Is it too early for me to start planning?
It’s never too early. Whether you’re in Grade 9, 10 or 11 you can:

PHOTO CREDIT: racorn/shutterstock.com

PHOTO CREDIT: racorn/shutterstock.com

  • Start your research via the Internet.
  • Meet with your high school guidance counsellor.
  • Get advice from people working in thecareer you’re interest in.
  • Visit schools you’d like to attend.
  • Connect through social media. (You can get valuable insights about what others may think by visiting a school’s Facebook page.)
  • Become more well-rounded through volunteering, employment and sports clubs. This helps you make yourself more interesting to admissions officers.
  • Build relationships with teachers who you might like to ask for recommendation letters.

I’ve applied. Now what?

Continue to work hard and keep your grades up. No one wants to get accepted into a school only to have the door slam shut again because of poor grades in the last semester. Do the schools you applied to have all the paperwork required? It doesn’t hurt to double-check. Also, get cracking on applying for financial aid or scholarships, and research housing options.

Your guidance counsellor is there to help you make important decisions. We asked Dr. Beth Robinson, a director with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, to give us the lowdown.

What kind of help can a student expect?
High school counsellors can help with the “what next?” questions. They can help you access information about various programs of study and admission prerequisites at trade schools, colleges and universities; post-secondary financing, apprenticeships and on-the-job training, employment services and youth volunteer service programs. School counsellors can help you explore and narrow the range of choices, based on your values, interests, strengths, goals and dreams.

How can a student prepare for an initial meeting to discuss post-secondary options?
Write down your questions. For example: Should I go to college or to university? Next, write down any decisions you’ve already made to help to clarify your thinking. For example, you want a post-secondary option that will allow you to continue to engage in a particular athletic or musical activity, or you might wish to stay in a specific geographical area. A third step is to spend time thinking about your goals, priorities and dreams, and discussing them with family and friends. Write out your thoughts. Bring a copy of each of these three documents to your first meeting.

How can a student make the most out of the student-counsellor relationship?
Plan to meet with your school counsellor more than once. Important decisions should be thoughtful and well informed. Expect to do some ‘homework’ between sessions, aimed at increasing your self-awareness, self-knowledge and insight. Attend sessions with an open mind and be willing to think outside of your comfort zone. Don’t be too quick to choose or to rule out an option. When reflecting on each post-secondary study and career path possibility, ask yourself what it is about that option that does or does not attract you and why.

When it comes to post-secondary education planning, what is a common roadblock?
One of the biggest challenges is thinking that you have to make the one, ‘right’ career choice. And then believing you’ll be stuck with it and it will be too costly to ever change direction. The reality is that you’ll change jobs several times in your life. This is not only normal, but offers a richly varied, rewarding, and satisfying work life with no regrets for paths not taken. Take the pressure off yourself
– you don’t have to make a ‘forever’ decision at this point.

Important Dates

Consult each school to determine important dates and deadlines. Use the chart below as an example of the process of applying to a college in Ontario. Dates may vary from province to province, and school to school, but one thing is consistent: missed deadlines equal late fees and retracted offers of admission.

  • November: Start sending out your application information for admission into the next school year.
  • February: All applications received by Feb. 1 are considered equally. Applications received after the deadline are considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Admission decisions are starting to be made.
  • May: Applicants must confirm which offer of admission they are accepting.
  • June: Tuition fees are due.