SASKATOON -- Sun West School Division is apologizing following negative reaction to a message posted on a sign at Outlook Elementary School.

The sign said: “Farming affects oceans. Chemicals hurt habitats & species. They also decr (decrease) oxygen levels”

Many took to social media criticising the message, saying the area is supported by the agriculture industry and the sign sent an overwhelmingly negative message.

Director of Education Randy Emmerson apologized for “how negatively this will have affected our communities.

“We value our partnership with the agricultural sector. We teach about agriculture. We’ve got many folks that are involved with agriculture literacy within our schools. And it was so unfortunate that it got knuckled down into a topic or a question or a statement that was so anti-agriculture.”

Emmerson said the message was posted on Tuesday after a teacher was working on a unit in social studies on sustainability, where different groups cover different topics.

“The group that was working on the oceans started taking a look at really how farming and the oceans are connected. And so, as they condensed the information, it was so much information that talked about the goodness of farming that was condensed into the one part that was put on the sign,” Emmerson said.

He said the school division will continue to show the value of the agriculture industry and the land in general.

“We’re a land based province, and there is so much we can learn from the land. And the stewardship of the land is so important.”

The sign has now been changed to read: “Agriculture is the most healthful most useful & noble employment of Man. (George) Washington”

Emmerson said the school administration changed the sign to reflect the positive relationship the school division has with agriculture in the province.

He added the school division will review the approval process for what’s displayed on signs at schools.

Former Conservative Party leader and current Regina-Qu'Appelle MP Andrew Scheer said the original message was “unbelievable, and infuriating” in a Facebook post.

“We all benefit from modern farming. Without it, food would be unaffordable for most people. Canadian agricultural practices are the best in the world and we should be celebrating it, not attacking it. Especially in Saskatchewan.

“I just spoke to the principal, and am relieved that the sign has been changed. Let’s hope the kids in this school get the full picture. Radical activists should not be indoctrinating our kids like this.”