A grade seven class at Journey Middle School is motivated to make a difference after recently participating in a project to understand and connect with indigenous students living in the Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario.
“Well, I wanted to support the Attawapiskat community and let them know that we were supporting them and trying to help them,” said Emily Webb, a student at the Sooke middle school.
After watching the film ‘Hi-Ho Mistahey’, a documentary that followed Attawapiskat teenager Shannen Koostachin and her mission to bring proper education and human rights to her community, the class felt inspired to take action.
“So when they watched a documentary about how they don’t have basic access to comfy schools, health care, they decided that it wasn’t really a safe environment,” said Elizabeth Kannangara, a seventh-grade teacher at Journey Middle School.
They made posters, poems, artwork, and even wrote letters to elected government officials in order to invoke real change.
“Half the class decided they wanted to actually send information to Attawapiskat, and others decided they wanted to send information to the government and say how can we create change, what can we do, and so they sent letters to Trudeau and different government leaders,” said Kannangara.
“I just hope that they think that they are loved, they know that they have people who care for them and they aren’t, like, just off in the distance and no one cares about them,” said seventh-grader Grace O’Shea, who wrote a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau.
The class also welcomed First Nation elders to hear their stories and learn about their culture. Kannangara calls it “a practice of empathy and understanding”, as the class aims to make the world a kinder place.
“To see that coming out of grade seven is very special, it’s really good to see,” said the teacher.