Caption: PJ students celebrated Valentine's Day in a unique way.
Valentine’s Day meant a little bit more at PJ this year as students and staff joined to celebrate Have a Heart Day. Free cookies were handed out as part of a campaign to help ensure that First Nations children have the childhood they deserve.
Six Nations student Artyna Jonathan-King said, “As a Native student, it was nice to see the PJ students come out for Have a Heart Day and show their support of First Nations kids.”
Teresa Miller, the grandmother of a PJ student, prepared 800 heart-shaped cookies which were handed out over the lunch break on February 12th.
“She was amazing,” said Tracy Levett, a member of PJ’s Truth and Reconciliation Committee. “She made the event possible. It’s really important to know we can make a difference for this generation of First Nations kids.”
Students also learned more about the challenges facing First Nations children including disproportionate numbers of children in care, unequal access to education and the legacy of the Residential School System.
“I did not realize the discrepancy in basic services when it comes to First Nations children,” said student Collin Tate. “I believe all children deserve an equal opportunity with educational resources, deserve to be proud of their culture and deserve to live in a safe and healthy home.”
Many students signed a Valentine’s Day card to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asking him to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“It’s great to see that the government may finally recognize that its treatment of First Nations youth has been entirely unfair, and they might finally get the treatment they deserve,” said student Hannah Schnepf.
PJ’s event was one of 40 registered events that took place across Canada over the Family Day weekend. Canadians were asked to “support culturally based equity for First Nations children in joyful and creative ways.”
“The Have a Heart event was a call for equity,” said Hunter Blue, co-prime minister of the PJCVS Student’s Council. “More than that, it was a learning opportunity which highlighted how the historical roots of our society perpetuate privilege placing Aboriginal youth at a distinct systemic disadvantage.”
Have a Heart Day is the brainchild of the First Nation Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. After the PJ event, the school received a card of thanks from Executive Director Cindy Blackstock.
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