A former Ponoka Composite High School (PCHS) graduate shared her experiences on her journey to becoming a social activist and development specialist with Grade 10 Social Studies class through a presentation at the school on Thursday, May 22.
Ashley Dennehy of Samson Cree nation of Maskwacis, currently studying international development at the University of Calgary, said this was her first visit back to the school since her graduation and expressed great admiration of the changes at the school.
She focused her presentation on her personal struggles all the way from entering Grade 9 at PCHS to her internship in Africa to her current regular visits to Costa Rica to work for non profit organizations to promote social justice and development.
Recollecting her difficulties in managing her transitions first in Ponoka as a high school student and in Edmonton and Victoria, B.C in post secondary education episodes, Dennehy said she could really discover her passion for social justice and social causes like women’s rights and empowerment and even some basic rights like the right to safe drinking water through her international assignments, first teaching English in Fiji for a few weeks and then a six-month internship in Africa working with a women’s cooperative in Lusaka, Zambia.
Stressing that there are many parallels between the issues of social injustice in the developing world and the disadvantaged communities in the developed world, like the First Nation reserves in Canada, Dennehy said she had got the inspiration to organize last year’s Water Walk during which protesters closed Highway 2A to raise awareness on the water safety problems of the Maskwacis communities from her work in Zambia, where women have to walk long distances to carry potable water for family needs.
She urged Grade 10 students to get involved with their community organizations to seek opportunities to volunteer and develop an understanding of the social justice issues that may be affecting members of their community.