Students at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) created a fundraising campaign recently that raised awareness for the murdered and missing Indigenous women.
Grade 10 students Denver Hillareguy, Ava Buffalo, Winston Saddleback and Haley Samson teamed up with Kim Wiggins, English and social studies teacher through the in-reach learning at PSC after reading a book that inspired them to do more.
Wiggins said students read the novel April Raintree by Beatrice Culleton. The story follows two young sisters’ lives after they become separated from their family.
“That brought up a lot of issues that Indigenous people are facing,” said Wiggins.
She added that students focussed on murdered and missing Indigenous women and violence against women as part of the book project. The goal was to raise money through a bake sale for the Ermineskin Women’s Shelter.
A new layer to the project came in the form of the creation of felt dolls, made by the junior high school students. These dolls had no details to their faces to represent these missing women.
The faceless dolls were pinned up around the school.
For Hillareguy the book raised her awareness of the challenges many Indigenous people face. “All of us just kind of agreed to raise money for the women’s shelter.”
Just over $500 was raised at the bake sale, explained Buffalo, who said there were many students unaware of the faceless dolls and what they represent.
“A lot of Indigenous women went missing and nobody put out posters saying they were searching for them. And they are still missing to this day,” explained Buffalo of the meaning.
Just under 100 faceless dolls were made.
Saddleback added that while at first he wasn’t entirely sure how the project would go, he knew in the back of his mind that it was one with a positive message.
Raising the $500 from the bake sale, everything was $1, ended up being a pleasant surprise.
Discussing the book, Saddleback said what stuck with him the most was how the two sisters ended up separating when they became older. “I related that to my brother who’s not that much younger than me.”
“It made me want to take care of my littler brother better,” added Saddleback.
Samson said she enjoyed reading the book although it is of a serious nature. Despite the heavy mood within the book, Samson feels there’s still hope.
When asked about something she would like to see change for Indigenous women, Samson replied that she would like to see people notice.