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Progress for Stolen Sisters

Today was an historic day in Canada. After decades of neglect, the Canadian Government is finally launching an inquiry into the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women. The announcement was not only historic in itself but also in the fact that the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs made reference to the issues of colonialism, racism and sexism that are interconnected within this issue. Establishing an inquiry is not the end of the issue but really only the start of the next stage of what we must do to bring justice to the missing and murdered.

Over the last 30 plus years over 1200 Indigenous women have gone missing or been murdered with many not having any closure to their case. That means that the families who lose loved ones have had years and even decades without knowing what happened to their family member. For years, Indigenous activists have been bringing this issue to the forefront of Canadian consciousness and thanks to their hard work we now have an inquiry that can hopefully begin the process of how to find understanding, healing and justice for the missing and murdered.

For me as a teacher who works with a majority of Indigenous youth, the issue hits close to home. Every year I work with my students to understand how and why this issue happens and what we can do about it. I've had students emotionally break down in my classroom while telling their stories, I've brought students to rallies and protests to demand that governments take this issue seriously, and I've done my best to uplift, support and empower the voices of my students to let them know that they can and should continue to fight for this issue.

Often times in our classrooms we study social issues that we can be disconnected from or that happened at a time that is not ours. However, for my classroom in this time in history, we did our best to create community within our school and classrooms to let students know that they aren't alone, that their families and communities are not alone and that there are people all over this country who want to do the right thing.

Thanks to the actions of my students, and the Indigenous activists who have been working on this issue for years and decades, we are starting to make progress at the governmental level. I am so thankful to live in a community where activists trying to change the world have come into my classroom to inspire students to do the same. I have learned so much from my students, their families and the larger Inner City community in Edmonton. No matter where my teaching career takes me I vow to always ensure that what I'm teaching deals with the realities of the world we live in and encourage students to make it a more just and equitable place for all.

Below are pictures I've taken throughout the years of students at the Stolen Sisters Awareness Movement and Rally as well as a few shots at other events and in the classroom. Inner City students have taken a leadership role within their school on this issue and I'm happy to tell them that they played a role in creating positive change for the missing and murdered.

Inner City High student reads his letter to Stephen Harper at the Stolen Sisters Awareness Movement and Rally in 2013

Inner City High Student marches at the Stolen Sisters Awareness Movement and Rally in 2013

Inner City High students gather to join the Stolen Sister Awareness March and Rally in 2014

The Inner City High Youth Leadership group makes a pledge to join the Moosehide campaign to end violence against women and children.