A Garden City Collegiate classroom was a hive of discussion last week for an exchange of ideas which will map out social justice initiatives in the building for months to come.
The Garden City Collegiate and Seven Oaks Met School (located on the collegiate’s grounds) social justice groups recently joined forces, merging into a single group in advance of a new campaign during which members will speak to social justice issues surrounding mining operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"Our social justice club this year is focusing on Canadian mining companies and their involvement in the Congo," said Met School group member Anna MacDonald, adding Winnipeg has a large Congolese community.
MacDonald said their inspiration for the campaign emerged following a trip to a human rights day at Gordon Bell High School, which focused on the topic. The group’s concerns about abuses in the Congo were driven home when they realized how much the use of minerals from the region permeate their everyday lives.
"We all kind of have blood on our hands, because we all have cellphones (made from) the minerals they’re using from those countries," said Garden City social justice group member Alli Jack.
"To me what was really shocking was how these minerals trickle into our everyday lives. They’re not only in cellphones, but in laptops and things that save lives, such as pacemakers," MacDonald added.
The group started with working out an ‘ABC’ game plan (awareness, bucks and change).
They’ve researched the issue and are now moving on to the fundraising aspect, which so far includes a benefit concert and a walk to the Manitoba legislature, both of which will take place in the new year. They are also planning a human rights day in March, at which they plan to invite social justice groups from around the city.
"They’ve been spreading the word at the different conferences. What I’ve been doing is emailing other people who have been interested... We’re going to be inviting them to our human rights day and have collaboration with other schools too," Jack said.
During the meeting, members of the merged group provided updates on where they were in the early stages of the campaign. Some were in the process of contacting elected officials to invite them to their various events. Others were preparing papers speaking to the effects of pollutants in the Congo.
Jack said the groups will likely remain together permanently after the current campaign wraps up.
"I think it’s going to help our arms reach a little further, and get one big idea across instead of doing our own little things," Jack said.
Jenny Ruhr, a Grade 10 advisor for the Met School, said she thinks the merger will be great for both schools.
"We are more informed on what other groups are doing through the students from Garden City who are a part of other clubs, and it is a really good way for us to set larger goals," Ruhr said.
"Now that we get to work together, and have each other’s input, our group can now do multiple, and larger, projects at once because we are big enough to have different people take charge of a different aspects of the projects. Through collaboration, we are able to do things we were not able to individually.
-with files from Madison Hooper