What started as a school project for 16-year-old Willow Francis has taken on a new meaning.
“I was hoping to raise awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls,” Francis says of her video, titled “My Sisters …I Dance for You”.
In the video, Russell dons traditional Indigenous attire as well as clothing branded with slogans familiar to the MMIWG cause.
She dances, burns sage and paints a red handprint on her face — the symbol of the MMIWG movement.
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All while music by A Tribe Called Red plays.
The Miramichi Valley High School student created the video for an English assignment.
When her teacher saw the finished project, they encouraged her to share it online.
That was on June 12, the same day Rodney Levi was shot and killed by an RCMP officer in a nearby community.
“It’s scary,” says Willow’s mom Tammy of the current climate, “you’re not sure, should I call the police if I need help?”
Tammy says her daughter didn’t share the project with her while she was making it, but the finished project blew her away.
“I just noticed her doing things at home, like filming it,” she says, “but when I (saw) it, I was like, ‘wow that’s awesome.'”
In a little over a week since it was uploaded, the video has been viewed over 1,300 times.
“A lot of my friends are sharing the video and messaging me about it,” Willow says.
“Even her non-native friends are showing concern about it,” Tammy adds.
For both Willow and Tammy, they say that’s encouraging.