Students at Ian Bazalgette School have learned how they can create change through social activism. They started the Clean Water Birthday Project in honour of Canada 150 and to make a difference to the 50 First Nations communities across Canada that are on boil water advisories. Denise Hammond’s Grade 7 Humanities students researched ways to promote awareness and understanding about this serious issue in an effort to create social change. Their mission is to show waterless First Nations communities that they are allies.
Since October 2016, the students gained empathy for Indigenous communities that are dealing with a lack of clean water. Students also wrote letters to politicians in February, looking for responses and support. The impact of their time and attention quickly gained momentum and spread in the community and on social media.
Their public awareness efforts earned them an invitation to the Diversity Conference at Olds High School. Students spoke to the audience of 700 about their goal to get 100,000 signatures supporting their appeal to the Canadian Government to take action. Metis Elder Edmee Comstock blessed their work and held a smudge before the students travelled to Olds.
“Being part of this project made me a better person because it is important to learn about social activism at a young age so we can raise awareness,” says Ryan, Grade 7 student.
In May, award winning author Deborah Ellis invited local youth change makers to be a part of her presentation at the International Children’s Festival. Two students from Ian Bazalgette dazzled and inspired the audience with their perseverance.
“I didn’t know there were people in Canada without clean drinking water and I believe that it should be publicly shared,” said Hailey, Grade 7 student. Haley went on to say how much she loved doing this work because activism is important for youth and that they can make Canada better for future generations.
The students are fundraising for the charity Water First, whose mission is to address water challenges in First Nations communities through education, training and meaningful collaboration. Click here for more information on this student-led project, how you can contribute and to sign their petition.