NEWS
03/23/2016 14:29 EDT | Updated 03/24/2017 01:12 EDT

Jane Goodall Institute opens Western Canada office to promote conservation

EDMONTON — An international conservation organization founded by chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall says it has chosen Edmonton as the site of its first Western Canada office.

JGI Canada says it will use the office as a hub to grow a school program about the need to protect the environment and understand the connection between people and animals.

"Our goal is to create a generation of Janes," Jen Duffy, a spokeswoman for the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, said Wednesday.

"Chimps are still our main focus species, but if we are making the world a better place for chimps we are making it a better place for everyone."

JGI Canada says it already has more than 400 groups in its Roots & Shoots program across the country that involves local hands-on conservation projects.

Duffy said there are three schools in Alberta where teachers have been trained to deliver the program aimed at kindergarten to Grade 6 students.

The program promotes compassion, empathy, critical-thinking skills and awareness about environmental sustainability.

The plan is to train more teachers and expand the program into Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

Duffy said Alberta was chosen for the first Western Canada office  because of the support JGI has received in the province.

Westmount Charter School in Calgary was the first school in Canada to sign onto the program.

"It is not that we are coming here to fix things. People in Alberta have identified that they want to make a difference," Duffy said.

"We are certainly not making a value judgment about Alberta. This is where people have been passionate about the work that we are doing."

In 1960, Goodall began doing research with wild chimpanzees in the forests of Tanzania. She later became an activist and speaks about how habitat loss is threatening animals.

The United Nations appointed Goodall a U.N. Messenger of Peace in 2002.