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Organizing MMIWG walk taught Deerwood students about their power to inspire change

Project focused on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls that culminated in a walk to spread awareness of the issue on Red Dress Day May 5 may have also helped a missing person to reconnect with their loved ones.
deerwood class may 9 2022
Students in the Deerwood School Grade 7 class that organized a May 5 walk in Thompson to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls pose outside their school on May 9.

The Grade 7 Deerwood School class that organized a large walk through Thompson on Red Dress Day May 5 says their investigation of the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada has taught them alarming statistics but also that they can have an impact.

Indigenous women are about six times more likely to be killed than other women in Canada, said Pierce Brown, which affected his emotions as the walk began.

“I was kind of feeling sad,” he said. “I felt bad for all the Indigenous woman and their families. But mid-walk, I started feeling happy because we’re helping the cause instead of just doing nothing.”

Aside from just spreading awareness, the walk and the students’ advance promotion of it may have helped one missing person reconnect with their loved ones.

“One of the people in our class had a cousin who was missing,” says Zeia Sandhu. A few days after some of the students were on the radio talking about the upcoming walk and the facts about MMIWG, their cousin was found.

“Our class feels very proud that they helped possibly in finding her,” said teacher Sarah Schroeder.

More than half of Indigenous women who go missing or are murdered have been physically assaulted by their partners or have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime,” said Hayden DeRose.

“Indigenous women and girls have a more likely chance to be missing or murdered than any other race,” DeRose said, as they account for about 16 per cent of female homicide victims in Canada.

Learning about MMIWG through this project has exposed Dylan Jordan to the scale of the problem.

“I have become more aware of MMIWG and I will try my best to prevent anything,” he said.

Confronting a massive problem can make a person feel as if they are powerless to do anything about it but that’s not the case, said Charley Slaney.

“We’re all going to give voices to people who have been silenced,” Slaney said. “We can’t just sit here and let this happen. We have to stand up and take action. We were showing people that have been affected that people care.”