Our voices were heard by Mexico's Ambassador in Canada, they mean the world to the mother of one of 43 disappeared students
By Kassidy Goyette, a student at Massey Vanier High School in Cowansville, Quebec.
I would have never imagined that the petition created by our “small but mighty” Social Action Committee from Massey-Vanier High School would have such impact. It was amazing to have the opportunity to actually hand it over to Mexico’s Ambassador in Ottawa, see his reaction, and hear him say that he would ensure it reached the office of President Peña Nieto in Mexico.
Our petition spoke out about 43 students from a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, Mexico who “disappeared” after they were attacked by police and gunmen. We chose to take action around this because it is something that the students of our school can identify with and connect to.
Our initial goal was to make as many students in our school as possible aware about what happened. For this reason, we wrote out a summary of the facts on a ten-foot long piece of paper, along with our appeal for action to find the missing students and bring those responsible for this crime to justice.
Then we asked everyone to express their concern by signing their name with a different colour marker. When we had the eye-catching signatures of more than 300 people, we sent our petition to Kathy Price, Amnesty International Canada’s Mexico campaigner. We were thrilled when she phoned to invite us to a meeting she had obtained with Mexico’s Ambassador in Ottawa so that we could personally present our petition. We accepted without any hesitation!
Before the meeting with Ambassador Suárez Dávila, Kathy introduced us to Hilda Legideño Vargas, whose son Jorge Antonio is one of the 43 disappeared students. Hilda was in Canada as part of the Ayotzinapa to Ottawa Caravan that was supported by Amnesty International.
Seeing how appreciative Hilda was of what we had done in our school was so empowering. It was also empowering to see that she refused to give up hope despite all of her sadness and fear about what is happening to those who speak up for human rights in Mexico. It makes me reflect about my life and how lucky I am to live in a safe environment.
When we met with Ambassador Suárez Dávila and all his staff at the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa, I had the opportunity to hand over our petition and explain to him about the concern of everyone at our school. Our petition was not the only one he received. Kathy presented the Ambassador with two huge boxes filled with other petitions, photo messages, a large banner created by students in Toronto, a video message and masses of handwritten letters wrapped around pencils. Kathy read out some of the messages that were sent by people in different parts of Canada. The Ambassador told us he was impressed by the outpouring of concern from across the country – and would share it with his government.
It came to me that none of us necessarily personally know the missing student-teachers, or the classmates and families affected by their disappearance. However, we all feel for them. Without knowing who they are individually, we are all working towards truth and justice, and towards peace in their hearts. People from all over Canada are coming together to show how much they care, and to tell the Mexican government that they are watching.
Hearing from the mother of one of the disappeared students, presenting our petition to Mexico’s Ambassador, and seeing the impact of all the other messages of concern proved to me that even the smallest actions by any one of us can make a difference. When one person uses his or her voice, others will become interested, get in the know and will do the same. It is a domino effect. A negative situation can instill positivity across the globe, and through it all, people will join together to make a change.
This is what inspires me to do more. I hope it will inspire others.