On March 24, a group of Okanagan students want to be marching alongside their U.S. peers in the March For Our Lives protest.
“Seeing how those students are struggling to get their point across and make a difference, we just felt that we should be there with them,” said Husain Sattar.
Along with fellow Princess Margaret Secondary students Sarah Wood (16) and Reese Fuller (15), Sattar (17) is one of the organizers of a fundraising drive to help students from the area that want to join the protest march taking place in Spokane, joining with the national protest for gun reform in the U.S.
March For Our Lives is a response to the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 students and staff dead. Survivors from Parkland, and students across the U.S., aren’t waiting for adults to bring the change needed to prevent similar tragedies.
“Sarah, Reese, I and other students believe that as students ourselves we should be standing with them in solidarity and supporting them through this time of pain, loss, and grief and also representing Canada and the Okanagan itself as we all stand with them,” said Sattar.
Sattar said that wherever you are from in the world, this should be an alert to all youth.
“There are people our age that want to make a difference. It doesn’t matter if you are from Australia, Canada, Europe, wherever you are in the world,” said Sattar. “We, as a world, are going to do something.”
The three students have started a GoFundMe page and local campaign to raise enough money to charter a bus, and cover accommodation for the students wanting to go.
“It’s going to be around $300 each if we have to pay for a charter bus, driver and hotel. It’s hard for students of our age, we have school and we don’t have full-time jobs,” said Husain. “We can’t just pull $300 out. If we can get $300, it’s through our parents. At the same time, we want to be independent.”
Wood said she is looking forward to being part of the event.
“It is super exciting to be able to experience something as powerful as this. I know that once we get there, we’re all going to be inspired.”
Sandra Richardson, a vice-principal at Princess Margaret, said she is impressed by the students’ dedication, but noted that the trip is not a school function — Sattar, Wood and Fuller just happen to be students at Maggie.
The plan is all the students’ own idea and work, she said, with the help of supportive parents.
Some people, including a U.S. congressman, have questioned whether the marches and other actions are actually being organized by the students.
“This is frustrating to hear when there is evidence of youth doing amazing things,” said Fuller. So many youth aren’t waiting until March 24 to make their voice heard in the states.
“Youth are so much more powerful than they are given credit for.”
Wood said you only need to look at how involved students are.
“If you look a the people doing things, they are teenagers, because they want to make a change in the world,” said Wood.
And Husain said the questioners need to remember the history of social change in the U.S., especially during the 1960s.
“It is the youth, throughout history, that have brought this world together,” he said.