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Quesnel students bring awareness to plight of MMIWG at their school

Correlieu Secondary Students plan a walkout and display at their Quesnel district school
Correlieu Secondary School teacher Ashleigh Desbiens-Korum (far left) and Keri Osha (far right) stand alongside the students behind an awareness campaign for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women at the school including: Joely Paul (from left), Adrianna Alec, Amber Martin and Jessica Johnny (Cassidy Dankochik photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

Every day in Joely Paul’s English class at Correlieu Secondary School, the teacher pulled a topic from students to discuss for the day. When Paul’s suggested topic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) came up, she was shocked at how little her classmates knew.

“Everyone in my class seemed to know nothing about it, except for one person,” she said. “I thought it was weird because I have been taught about it my entire life, and these people have no recollection or meaning behind it, but it’s something that happens daily.”

Paul, alongside fellow students between grades 10 and 12, took action to change that. Not only did they construct information boards to help share MMIWG stories, but are planning a walkout around the school on May 5, the National Day of Remembrance for MMIWG.

READ MORE: Marchers gather for annual B.C. event to honour missing, murdered women

“Before there was nothing going on about it,” Paul said. “Every year it would roll around and I would see no one wearing red, and no one really talking about the people who are going missing.”

The walk will stay close to the school, with students staying in their own cohorts and wearing masks to ensure COVID-19 rules are followed.

The students also made MMIWG themed masks to raise more awareness. The display educating students has red dresses, handprints and profiles of missing people from around the Quesnel area.

“We wanted to do something that would catch people’s attention,” Paul said.

Despite making up only 4.3 per cent of Canada’s population, Indigenous women account for 16 per cent of the country’s female homicide victims and 11 per cent of the country’s missing women.

Paul was joined by fellow students Jessica Johnny, Amber Martin and Adrianna Alec.

READ MORE: Stories of loss, pain heard at missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry

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