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Cold Lake First Nations John N.A. Janvier School hosts first MMIP walk

Cold Lake First Nation’s John N.A. Janvier School hosted its first Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Awareness Walk on May 3.

COLD LAKE - Cold Lake First Nation’s John N.A. Janvier School hosted its first Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) Awareness Walk on May 3, bringing together community members, educators, and students to honour Indigenous people and raise awareness about the critical issues surrounding the violence and systemic discrimination. 

The event began at 11 a.m. with a heartfelt presentation in the school gymnasium. Principal Lori Benko opened the ceremony with an open welcome, saying, “First of all, we want to acknowledge and welcome the spirits of the murdered and missing Indigenous people. We also want to acknowledge the courage of their survivors. These spirits and their courage guided us in our work today. This presentation is about these beautiful Indigenous people and the systemic factors that lead to gender-based genocide. Our goal here today is to bring awareness to you and protect you.” 

Selena Janvier who led an opening prayer, expressed gratitude for all of creation.  

"I thank you for creating all creation, your magnificent creation, here and all our members of our community and the whole world. I thank you for all the teachers here and all the staff and all our Aboriginal leaders and workers that are in here helping our children here," she said. She further stressed the need for more Indigenous educators in schools to teach children about their culture and traditions. 

During the presentation, the stark reality of violence against Indigenous women was laid bare. Benko highlighted statistics, stating that the World Health Organization reports that 35 per cent of women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime.  

In Canada, Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or mistreated than any other women in Canada. 

The presentation continued by discussing the harsh realities faced by Indigenous people, not just women, but also men and children. It highlighted issues like human trafficking, the child welfare system, broken family connections, and challenges that start at birth.  

It also offered practical advice on how to stay safe and avoid dangerous situations. 

After the presentation, attendees enjoyed a barbecue lunch, fostering a sense of community and solidarity. At 1 p.m., the MMIP walk began, symbolizing the collective effort to raise awareness and take action against violence toward Indigenous people. 

Benko acknowledged the contributions of the committee members who made the event possible, saying, “Our ladies have been working on the campaign since February. They've been preparing for this event. They thought of everything from ordering shirts, sewing ribbon skirts, they made posters, and decorated the gym."  

She thanked everyone that was part of the committee for their hard work. 

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Chantel Downes is a graduate of The King's University, with a passion for writing and storytelling. Originally from Edmonton, she received her degree in English and has a minor in communications.
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