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After working to have the red fox named as the provincial animal, province makes a special presentation

Norbert Carpenter, right, principal at Montague Consolidated School, joins Grade 7 students from Montague Intermediate School Keaton MacDonald, left, Alex Beck and Isaiah Williams at the intermediate school on June 19, as they pose with a photograph given to them by the province as an acknowledgment of the work they did to get the red fox named as P.E.I.’s provincial animal.
Norbert Carpenter, right, principal at Montague Consolidated School, joins Grade 7 students from Montague Intermediate School Keaton MacDonald, left, Alex Beck and Isaiah Williams at the intermediate school on June 19, as they pose with a photograph given to them by the province as an acknowledgment of the work they did to get the red fox named as P.E.I.’s provincial animal. - Katie Smith

MONTAGUE- A group of students in Montague has plenty to be proud of.

After having front-row seats in the process of selecting the red fox as the provincial animal for P.E.I., several of them were on hand Tuesday to receive a photograph from the province as an acknowledgment of their work, interest and input over the past two years.

Isaiah Williams, who initially worked on the project, is pleased with how it all turned out.

“I learned to follow your dreams as far as you can, and if you succeed, it’s obviously great.”

The students’ efforts started back in the 2015-2016 school year when they were in Edwena Arbuckle’s Grade 5 class at Montague Consolidated School.

Alex Beck, one of the students involved in the project, said the idea began as a persuasive writing exercise stating the fox would make a great provincial animal, which was then printed in the Eastern Graphic.

Now in Grade 7 at Montague Intermediate, Beck said learning about the Island’s history with the fox, it seemed like a logical fit to become the provincial animal.

“We all just found the fox a fascinating animal, and how it became such a big part of city life so easily,” he told The Guardian on Tuesday. “We found them to be really beautiful, nice animals.”

Their suggestion eventually found its way to the provincial legislature this spring as Independent MLA Bush Dumville tabled a private members bill.

The Montague students were disappointed when their suggestion for P.E.I.’s provincial animal was challenged by Liberal MLA Alan McIsaac in the legislature. However, it was, overall, a learning experience.

Keaton MacDonald, now also in Grade 7 at the intermediate school, said he was disappointed in how politicians behaved after McIsaac suggested the Holstein cow become the provincial animal rather than the fox, but he was pleased things worked out in the students’ favour and the bill passed.

“When they stuck through with it, I thought it was a great idea,” he said. “You can do anything if you put your mind to it.”

McIsaac’s actions weren’t welcomed.

Isaiah explained how it takes weeks for a sand sculptor to build a sculpture, but then it just gets blown away.

“If they were to pick the Holstein cow, it would be like that. It would be really irritating because it’s been three, almost four years now (we’ve been working on it).”

In the end, the fox was declared the provincial animal, which made the students proud.

Alex said the decision was “amazing” and said he learned a lot about politics in the process.

“It’s made it almost interesting in a way sort of,” he said, adding he used to think differently. “I thought it used to be so much simpler than it is, but now I realize how many layers there is to the government and how much it has to go through for something to happen."

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