Students at Penticton Secondary campaign to end violence against women and children across B.C. (Photo courtesy of Eva Koch)

‘Pen High Be Kind’: Local students campaign to end violence against women and children

‘No one deserves to be afraid,’ a pair of students displayed on a sign

The daily morning announcements at Penticton Secondary on Thursday had its first-ever acknowledgment of a grassroots campaign hoping to end violence against women and children across Canada.

The showing of a video about the Moose Hide Campaign — a 10-year-old movement led by Indigenous men and boys to end violence — was how the day started for everyone at the high school.

“First thing in the morning, we do our morning announcements but this time it included teachers showing their students the video,” said Eva Koch, a teacher at Penticton Secondary.

“Kids sometimes tune out during the announcements but they were actually listening and paying attention this time. Every class in the school was part of it.”

The campaign is recognized on May 12 every year across Canada. Thursday, though, marked the first time teachers at Penticton Secondary School ensured their students would be aware of what the event stands for.

As the day continued, students were invited to create their own signs with campaign-themed messaging to show off at the event booth on the school’s main floor.

Among those messages included “No one deserves to be afraid,” written by Eric Manuel and Brayden Gosselin, a pair of Grade 10 students.

Another visible sign on Thursday read “The stats speak for themselves,” a message written by Lena Seddon and Cassidy Gatenby, classmates of the aforementioned Grade 10 boys.

The stats, according to Penticton Secondary social studies teacher Lauren Millington, say that one in three women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.

“For the students, just the chance for them to be exposed to more information that they may have not known is so important,” Millington said. “This is something we need to do for our community.”

Thursday’s event marked the second straight week that students at Penticton Secondary School took action on a nationwide issue. On May 5, the school recognized National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and Two-Spirit People.

An Indigenous-themed story walk and the display of more than 25 red dresses outside the school headlined the students’ acknowledgment of the day.

Before 2022, Penticton Secondary School had not recognized either early-May event.

Teachers at the school, however, plan on not only recognizing the events annually from now on, but also continuing the conversations no matter what it says on the calendar.

“Yes, we have the day that we recognize these campaigns, but it needs to be something that we’re aware of all the time,” Millington added.

Penticton Secondary students recognized the Moose Hide Campaign on May 12 (Photo courtesy of Eva Koch)
Penticton Secondary students recognized the Moose Hide Campaign on May 12, calling for an end to violence against women and children. (Photo courtesy of Eva Koch)

PHOTOS: Penticton Secondary students honour lost Indigenous lives with Red Dress Day


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