September 2, 2014 10:30 pm

Squamish student’s Op-ed article about teachers’ strike garners national attention

Students are weighing in and getting active in the dispute between the teachers and province but for one 16-year-old Squamish girl, her activities are garnering national attention.

Callista Ryan wrote an opinion article arguing that the teachers’ strike violates her right to education, according to a UN Treaty on the rights of the child, which Canada signed in 1990.

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The teen’s letter got printed in the local paper, The Squamish Chief, and then was picked up by Huffington Post, which brought in an overwhelmingly huge amount of support.

“Why am I sitting in my room while these adults are fighting over my future?” Ryan told Global News. “It’s not ok, I didn’t want that to happen anymore.”

In her Op-Ed Ryan said, “I have a right to education. And I’m terrified that a group of adults who were elected by other adults think that we don’t deserve that. Why don’t we as students get a say? We are not only the future of B.C.’s economy, but we’re living in the present where we want to change things and take action as well…”

And her fellow Howe Sound Secondary classmates are adding their voices too. Even though they walked out with their teachers back in June, the teens are out front of their school but this time, they’re out there for themselves — not taking either side.

“Adults need to consider children,” says student Asia Mader. “I know they are both fighting for things that need to be fought for [but] it’s like a kid in the middle of a divorce and it’s been going on for 10 years.”

In this case, they’ve decided not to just sit back and watch, instead they’re getting involved. Every day Ryan and her classmates are planning to come back to school until they can attend regular classes.

And since Ryan has been granted a voice due to her taking action, the grade 11 student plans to keep speaking up.

“I can’t be a teacher and fight for them, I can’t get into politics right now but I can be an active citizen and get other students involved,” Ryan says.

~ with files from Elaine Yong

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