Staff, students and community members walk down Redwood Avenue Thursday during the fourth annual DFC memorial walk.
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Ida Muckuck feels scared for her younger teen daughter.
With two daughters attending Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School this year, Muckuck wanted to show her support for her children as well as the other students and her home community of Mishkeegogamang First Nation in the school's fourth annual memorial walk Thursday for the seven students who have died since the school opened in 2000.
This year she is especially worried for her younger teen daughter.
"She's still very young and I feel scared for her. I feel I need to support her as much as I can," said Muckuck.
The memorial walk was started in 2010 and honours Jethro Anderson, Robyn Harper, Kyle Morrisseau, Paul Panacheese, Curran Strang, Reggie Bushie and Jordan Wabasse.
The DFC students, staff and community members walked from the Edward Street school to the McIntyre floodway, close to where Morrisseau’s body was found.
Muckuck believes the memorial walk helps the students become aware of the dangers of drinking, especially near the water, and they shouldn't leave anyone behind.
"I'm trying to encourage them to stick together as much as I can," she said. "Even during the day, too, as they're walking around, anything can happen."
"Hopefully I'll get through to them and they'll be safe."
DFC principal Jonathan Kakegamic said the walk is also about giving the students responsibility.
"We need to learn from our tragic losses and also that alcohol is not the answer. This is a good way because it gives the students time to think on the walk," he said.
"I think they realize they have a responsibility to behave, a responsibility to go to school. They have a responsibility to learn and also to create more awareness of why they're here. It's not to fool around and go party. We need to get past that perception," Kakegamic added.
Regional chief of Ontario Stan Beardy also joined Thursday's walk and said he felt he can be a role model to the students coming from remote communities to cities like Thunder Bay.
"I know what it's like for them to be up here and I figured in my role as Regional Chief of Ontario, it's important for them to know if I can do it, they can do it as well," he said.
Before heading out on the walk, Beardy addressed the students and stressed the importance of rules and responsibility.
"They need to understand the structure that's there for them to be able to succeed in life in general. The reserves, unfortunately, in the far north, they're not as structured as in a larger society so for them, they need to understand the rules are there for them to adjust to urban life," Beardy said.
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