Oak Bay youth hooked on cause to prevent shark finning

Glenlyon Norfolk School student designs posters to support Fin Free Victoria

Patrick Michalak

Patrick Michalak

Oak Bay News carrier Patrick Michalak is on a crusade that he pulled from a hat.

For a school assignment, the Glenlyon Norfolk School student pulled the sand shark from a hat to create a paper for class. He’d heard of the Fin Free club, and had good intentions to join, but this project for his Grade 6 science teacher Margaret McCullough spurred him to join the movement against shark finning.

Fin Free Victoria is a non-profit set up by McCullough and the students of GNS to lead by example for the rest of Canada and the world to ban shark fins in Canada. Fin Free is a global campaign addressing the mass slaughter of sharks to supply a growing consumer demand for shark fin.

Tasked with one “action” in relation to the sand shark project, he did two – joined Fin Free and created informational posters.

“I really liked it and decided I would contribute,” he said. “Every 10 seconds 30 sharks are killed and only three per cent of the shark is used. It doesn’t make sense. It’s only for soup.”

The flyer is filled with those tidbits of information and images of shark finning in action. He made 60 flyers to share around the neighbourhood and with fellow carriers to share around their neighbourhoods.

“It was to raise awareness that they’re not what we see them as: evil, savage killers,” he said. “Before, I thought sharks did want to eat you.”

The 12-year-old has put one poster up at his martial arts school, Fierce Studio, and is seeking just the right place for his one large poster.

Michalak credits his teacher for inspiring him to learn. Earlier this year, McCullough earned one of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence. Only 35 of these awards were presented nationally this year.

“She’s a very good teacher,” he said. “It’s always an interesting science class.”