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This article was published 14/3/2018 (803 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hundreds of Grant Park High School students staged a short walkout Wednesday morning to honour the 17 victims in last month's shooting at a Florida high school.
The Winnipeg demonstration was part of a North America-wide walkout that included 3,000 protests involving students from elementary to college levels. The demonstrations lasted 17 minutes -- one for each victim of the Stoneman Douglas High School massacre one month ago.
"With this walkout, we hope to show our solidarity with these students," said Katie Delay, one of five students who spoke during the walkout. "Students who have, as of late, done a better job of solving this issue than any American legislators."
Delay said the American students were protesting the influence the National Rifle Association has on U.S. politicians, while at the same time demanding more restrictive gun laws.
"These students have had to face gross conspiracy theories, condescension from politicians and general contempt for their cause, yet they are still making a difference."
Grant Park organizers said they were inspired by the activism of Florida students in the wake of the tragedy in Parkland. But while the issue of assault rifles and mass shootings is not at the forefront in Canada, students were encouraged to get involved in any issue that moved them, from social justice to missing and murdered Aboriginal women to pay equity to the #MeToo movement.
"That really resonated with some of us," said organizer Sam Kimelman, 16. "We thought it was a great injustice for student activism to be dismissed so unfairly. The point of today was to show that students can make a change."
Added co-organizer Izzie Helenchilde: "It's really important for people of my age, of my generation, to know that they can use their voice to make a difference."
The walkout co-ordinators are also in the process of organizing the Grant Park Rights Here Rights Now human rights conference April 17. The conference has a broad focus on reconciliation and other human rights-related topics, such as women's issues, mental-health awareness and refugee rights.
Helenchilde said the conference is designed to prepare students to face the issues they'll be responsible for addressing.
"We're next. Our generation is the future. (Soon), we're going to be able to vote. Soon, we're going to be able to build society. We need to know that young people are educated and informed enough to (know) right from wrong," she said.
In the United States, protests unfolded in a variety of ways. Some planned roadside rallies to honour shooting victims and protest violence. Others held demonstrations in school gyms or on football fields. In Massachusetts, Georgia and Ohio, students headed to their respective statehouses to lobby for new gun regulations.
The co-ordinated walkouts were loosely organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women’s March, which brought thousands of people to Washington, D.C., in 2017.
The group urged students to leave class at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes, and suggested demands for lawmakers, including an assault-weapons ban and mandatory background checks for all gun sales.
"Our elected officials must do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to this violence," the group said on its website.
Randy Turner spent much of his journalistic career on the road. A lot of roads. Dirt roads, snow-packed roads, U.S. interstates and foreign highways. In other words, he got a lot of kilometres on the odometer, if you know what we mean.
Updated on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 at 1:30 PM CDT: Writethru
1:34 PM: Photos changed
2:03 PM: Video added
5:11 PM: Writethrough