SSW student Rebekah Rego raises awareness through Strengthening Indigenous Allies Club

Rebekah
Rebekah Rego smiles for a photo by the Tipi at Sutherland Campus.

Rebekah Rego, co-president of the Strengthening Indigenous Allies Club, is currently busy hanging red dresses around Sutherland Campus. From March 19 to 23, red dresses will be on display to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women, encouraging the Fleming community to remember the women lost.

“If they don’t know about it, I hope they look into it; hopefully it makes them curious and question why this injustice is happening to our communities and to our women. If they do know about it, then I hope they feel supported,” said Rebekah on what she hopes people take away from the display. “Because of the posters, it’s already starting conversations and getting people thinking. It’s great.”

The Social Service Worker (SSW) student credits Métis multi-disciplinary artist Jaime Black for inspiring her display. The Winnipeg-based artist created The REDress Project, an installation art project that uses red dresses as a visual reminder of the crimes against Aboriginal women.

On Tuesday, March 20, Rebekah is organizing a march and candlelight vigil from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Sutherland Campus main lobby. “I thought it would be great to have a night to remember and honour our women,” said Rebekah.

Rebekah reactivated Fleming’s Strengthening Indigenous Allies club with the support of her BISHKAA mentor, Tish, who previously led the group and is now co-president with Rebekah. But taking a leadership role is nothing new for Rebekah, who has been a passionate social activist since childhood, travelling with her mother (SSW program coordinator Cristine Rego) since she was 10 years old to attend conferences and movements on Indigenous issues.

In grade 10, Rebekah worked with Indigenous mentors to secure funding for a focus group to develop an Indigenous approach to respond to bullying in the Sudbury Catholic School Board. In grade 11, Rebekah participated in the Mkwa Ride-along Program with Sudbury Regional Police. And in grade 12, Rebekah was one of 20 Indigenous students chosen to attend Osgoode Hall Law School for one week to study Indigenous justice and be introduced to law school. She also co-published an article with her mother entitled Ensuring a Culturally Safe Practice in Working with Aboriginal Women.

“I’m a huge activist within the community,” said Rebekah, who said her social activist goals are awareness and reconciliation.

Since her goals are to make a difference, Rebekah said that Fleming’s SSW program seemed like the perfect fit for her. “My mom is a social worker, so I grew up and realized this is something I wanted to do—be a helping hand in the community,” she said.

Once she graduates from Fleming, Rebekah’s goal is to join the RCMP and work in northern communities.

She describes her Fleming experience as wonderful and appreciates the welcoming, positive environment. “I love the multicultural atmosphere here. It is a very inclusive environment where we’re free to do what we want,” she said. “I’ve really been supported here by my professors and peers, by Aboriginal Student Services, as well as by the Student Administrative Council.”