By Jonas Gagnon
Local high school students are in the midst of the huge undertaking of organizing and putting on a conference for the region.
“I think it’s really neat that we’re, like, the smallest town ever and we get to do this,’ said Rhiannon Gammon from Fort St. James Senior Secondary.
Students Taking Action Against Racism (STAAR) is a student driven event, with all planning, and execution being executed by FSJSS students, with a little help from Kris Nielsen, Project Planner at CNC, and Jhenipher Bridgeman, a social worker at FSJSS.
It all started from an Embrace BC initiative from the Ministry of Social Development.
Nielsen wrote the grant and was surprised when her application was approved.
The grant is for $25,000 for a youth driven event to combat racism. And although the students are still in the very early stages of planning a few things are certain.
“It’s bringing kids together from Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and seven First Nations communities,” said Nielsen.
With all those students attending organizers are predicting 500 kids will be in Fort St. James for the event. That means the Fort Forum, which the regional council has donated the use of, will be packed with students.
“The exciting part about it is the community, as long as I can remember, haven’t hosted an event of this size of this type, said Nielsen.
When word came down that they got the grant the students were excited.
“I’m very excited that it’s actually happening, but it’s going to take a lot of work,” said Natalie Baillaut, a students at FSJSS, and an organiser of the event.
By partnering with the school district and the regional district the group has created a foundation for their event, but Bridgeman is still helping the students look for more sponsors to make as many of the kid’s dreams come true as possible.
The organizers are mostly made up of two groups: student council members, and a group of students that attended ‘We Day,’ a youth conference focused on social impact through youth. Together the two groups are doing everything, from creating a logo, to seeking support from companies.
For the We Day students it’s exceptionally exciting to be organizing an event similar to the one they attended.
“We we’re literally in the back row and now we might be able to meet (the speakers we saw),” said Baillaut, an organizer, and one of the students who attended We Day.
Though the task in front of them is large, and the timeline is tighter everyday the students are buoyed up by their optimism.
“I think we can pull it off,” said Gammon.
The event is scheduled for May 9, and, if all goes to plan, will feature music and speaking guest and the energy of 500 kids.