A Grade 7 class at Deerwood School in Thompson is addressing important topics as part of a class social justice project.
Topics covered by the students include missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), suicide awareness, free menstrual hygiene products, animal abuse and homelessness, along with slightly less emotional subjects like recycling and better roads, says student Zukanya Grant, 13.
“The whole project [is about topics] that we truly believe need to be brought up in Thompson or the world and that we feel close to our hearts,” says Grant.
That is certainly the case for Amber Frost, also 13, who is focusing on MMIWG and suicide awareness with Grant.
“It’s very important to me because I lost a few people to this,” Frost says. “I think no one should die because of what their culture is or how they look or how they sound or how they speak or how they style their hair.”
As part of their work on suicide awareness, Grant and Frost are creating a video about people who lost children or relatives to suicide.
“It’s a very big thing because it affects other people and will leave people in grief and no one wants to have the feeling to lose their daughter or their son or niece, nephew, their friend,” Frost says.
Work on the MMIWG topic included planned meetings with NDP MLA Danielle Adams, NDP MP Niki Ashton, the chief of Cross Lake, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee and Thompson RCMP detachment officer-in-charge Chris Hastie.
The class had planned to host a MMIWG awareness walk through Thompson May 26 but couldn’t go ahead with it because of COVID-19 related public health orders.
Teacher Sarah Schroeder said the students are old enough to learn more adult concepts and to examine the consequences of action or inaction.
“This type of assignment goes beyond the classroom and helps prepare my students for the reality of the workplace, life, and respect for their community,” she said. “They could be future volunteers, leaders, and/or politicians that could bring about change. I want them to understand that their voices matter, and they can make a difference in their community.”