TORONTO, Nov. 16 /CNW/ - Shannen Koostachin was a youth leader in
Attawapiskat. She came to national attention through her struggle to
get the federal government to build a school in her James Bay
community. Last May, Shannen died in a tragic road accident.
For eight years the children of Attawapiskat had been going to school in
poorly constructed portables. The failure of the federal government to
follow through on a promise to build a "real" school ignited a
determination in Shannen and her fellow students to bring this to the
attention of the world. Shannen was in Grade 8 at the time and became
an inspirational force in getting students from school boards across
Canada involved in a letter-writing campaign to change conditions for
the children of her community.
In 2009, the federal government promised the children of Attawapiskat a
new school. It is November, 2010 and the school has yet to be built.
The Ontario Public School Boards' Association has joined with First
Nations organizations, with teacher federations and with other
education partners to advocate not only for the community of
Attawapiskat but for fair and equitable education funding for all First
"Canadians want the best for Aboriginal children and their families."
said Catherine Fife, president of the Ontario Public School Boards'
Association. "Children should have a continuum of consistent, equitable
and high quality educational experiences regardless of where they live
in Canada. This is not only a key to success but a basic human right."
Shannen's Dream is a campaign named in memory of a courageous young
woman who sparked a passion to make sure all First Nations children
across Canada have decent schools and the kind of education that makes
them proud of who they are.
On Wednesday, November 17, a media conference to honour 'Shannen's
Dream' will take place at Elgin Street Public School in Ottawa
beginning at 1:30 p.m. Through a webcast, students from Attawapiskat
will bring greetings to the students of Elgin Street Public School. A
Youth Panel has flown to Ottawa from Attawapiskat and will describe
what it is like to go to school in make-shift portables.
At the media conference, Shannen Koostachin will be recognized
posthumously through the Children's Rights Award from the Canadian
Coalition for the Rights of Children. The award recognizes individuals
or groups who demonstrate exemplary efforts to respect the rights of
children as described in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
It will be presented to Shannen's parents.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Elgin Street Public School,
310 Elgin Street, Ottawa
SOURCE Ontario Public School Boards' Association
For further information: For further information:
President of the Ontario Public School Boards' Association
Cindy Blackstock, Executive Director
First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada