Today marks a National Day of Action to make Shannen’s Dream a reality. Hundreds of students in Ottawa will support this Day of Action by marching on Parliament, demanding the Federal Government to address the issue of educational equity for First Nations students.
Shannen Koostachen was a student activist who advocated for funding equality and safe conditions for First Nations schools, before she passed away in a tragic accident in May 2010. Funding inequities for First Nations Schools have resulted in conditions of extremely poor quality for First Nations students. Shannen Koostachin’s dream was to attend a new school in her First Nations community of Attawapiskat; she and her classmates attended school in portables in substandard and dangerous conditions, because her school was sitting on toxic land. The community has waited for over ten years for a new school.
The campaign for Shannen’s Dream was initiated by MP Charlie Angus (Timmins-James Bay), who introduced Motion 571 “Shannen’s Dream” into the House of Commons. This motion was supported by the CSBA, and calls for First Nations children to have the “right to high-quality, culturally relevant education, transparency in school construction, maintenance and replacement, and funding that will put reserve schools on par with non-reserve provincial schools.”
The issue of equitable funding for first Nations students is of national importance. During this federal election campaign, The President of the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association, Catherine Fife, states that it is time for all political parties to make a commitment to an equitable approach to education funding.
How can we stand by, watch and do nothing? Standing up for the rights of children, whether or not they live in our community, allows us to confront inequity and, more importantly, involves us in acknowledging that our future as a country is linked with that of First Nations peoples. This is a vision and commitment that has to be defended.
Toronto Star, April 26th
To get involved in Shannen’s Dream and the National Day of Action, see the information provided by First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario.