A Grade 11 Winnipeg student wants to raise awareness about indigenous issues in Canada by using butterflies — lots of butterflies.

Butterflies

Fariba Ishrar hopes the butterfly display will foster dialogue among her classmates, staff and the community as a whole. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)

Fariba Ishrar arranged to have 1,017 red paper butterflies float in Balmoral Hall School's atrium during the month of February.

Each butterfly represents an indigenous woman murdered in Canada from 1980 until 2012.

Ishrar hopes the display will foster dialogue among her classmates, staff and the community as a whole.

​"The response has been overwhelmingly positive," she said.

Atrium butterflies

The atrium at Balmoral Hall School is coloured with 1,017 red paper butterflies throughout February, each representing an indigenous woman murdered in Canada from 1980 until 2012. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)

The school hosted its inaugural equity conference on Wednesday to give students a better understanding of indigenous reconciliation, language and culture.

"The expectation is that each student will learn to value diversity as they study Canada's history and relationships with indigenous peoples," said humanities teacher Anne Hedley, who has headed up the conference planning over the past eight months.

"They will develop strategies to build a more inclusive community."

Wednesday's opening ceremonies featured aboriginal drummers and Aboriginal Youth Opportunities (AYO!) founder Michael Redhead Champagne, who delivered a keynote address to the students.

Drummers

Aboriginal drummers perform at the opening ceremonies Wednesday of Balmoral Hall’s equity conference. (Meagan Fiddler/CBC)