Grade 8 students part of a human rights project

Last year a pilot project started in Juniper Elementary School called Educating for Action with the then Grade 7 students, now Grade 8. The project contains a number of different themes including career development, positive self-identity, cultural efficiency, academics, community connecting, as well as a digital lodge piece. The hope of the project was to encourage and help the 35 students succeed and graduate.

Throughout the year filmmakers Jim Sanders and Mike Maryniuk traveled to Thompson every few months to work with the students to help produce a 45-minute film, which was shown to students, family and community members on June 17. 

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During the times the filmmakers weren’t here, students filmed videos with Thompson community members that work in the human rights field, which was the overlaying theme for the project. Interviews included Paulette Simkins about the right to shelter, and Julyda Lagimodiere, with the Manitoba Metis Federation. Students also learned about different leaders like Malala Yousafzai, Martin Luther King, and Louis Riel

Tanner Nowlin, one of the Grade 8 students, noted it was great seeing the finished video. “I felt really accomplished. It made me smile a lot seeing all the work we did this year for everyone to see. I was really happy to see that, it was a long process.” 

Part of the video was about the right to a clean environment, which Thompson did not have. Ryan Barker, a Juniper Elementary School teacher, worked with students to write letters to city council about passing a resolution for the right to a clean environment. The students also produced a video explaining why they felt this should be a right, which was included in the ditgital lodge movie. Student Teisha Linklater says since the right is not in the constitution, she hopes council will do something about that. “To be honest I didn’t think I knew very much about us not having the right to a healthy environment, so I was quite surprised when I found out. Before we had the right to a healthy environment, I don’t think many people in Thompson knew that we didn’t have that right either. It would be really cool if we could do it, working together with the northern communities in the north to promote it.”

During the June 8 council meeting, councillors unanimously passed the resolution granting Thompson the right to a clean and healthy environment.

Nowlin, however, hopes they do more than just pass the resolution. “I hope that they announce it, and make it more of a big popular thing.” Thompson is now the fourth city in the province with a right to a clean environment. The Pas, Dunnottar and Whitemouth are the other cities in Manitoba that have had the right declared by city councillors. 

The project will follow these students until they graduate, and will showcase all they’re doing to better themselves, and the world they live in. Both Nowlin and Linklater hope other schools in Thompson will follow in their footsteps, in creating a better community for all. 

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