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Building student leaders

Article and photo by Jared Story

Sisler High School student group guru Greg Shedden was recently honoured with a major national award.

Shedden, a teacher at Sisler, was presented with a Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon, on behalf of Governor General Julie Payette, during a ceremony on Jan. 9 at Government House.

Shedden was one of 15 Manitobans to be honoured with Governor General’s Awards for outstanding Indigenous leadership.

At Sisler, Shedden supervises Inter-School Nation to Support and Protect Indigenous Rights and Education (INSPIRE); the student group collects books to donate to low-income Indigenous families and northern communities. INSPIRE will be collecting books for donation in January and February.

“Three years ago, the students went to Fisher River Cree Nation with over 1,000 books, delivered them personally and then lived on the reserve for three days,” Shedden said.

Depending on the school year, Shedden oversees 10 to 15 student groups, including: Sisler Political Youth, which has hosted municipal, provincial and federal electoral candidate debates; HOPE for the Homeless, which collects hygiene products for donation to Siloam Mission; Generation Peace, which raises funds for war-affected children; as well as Sisler Teens Against Nicotine and Drugs and the school’s gay-straight alliance.

Shedden, who has taught at Sisler for 16 years, is quick to point out that all of the school’s student groups are student-driven.

“My job is to help (students) focus their energies and find productive ways to take their motivation and desire and turn it into action,” Shedden said.

Another student group Shedden oversees is Students of Sisler Environmental Helpers, which has helped improve the environment at Sisler.

“In this school we have our own organic garden, our own apple orchard, our own recycling program, our own composting program, and we have a solar wall,” Shedden said. “All of those things happened because we don’t talk about doing things, we do things.”

Shedden said working with student groups is like having a fountain of youth.

“That’s the other thing about being teacher advisor to youth groups, their energy feeds me. I don’t get to be complacent,” he said.

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