AFN Fully Supports Shannen's Dream Day of Action - National Chief: "We Can Make Shannen's Dream a Reality Simply by Doing the Right Thing"

OTTAWA, April 27 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo commented on activities being held across the country today, including a walk organized by students of an Ottawa school to bring letters of support for their First Nation peers to Parliament Hill to mark April 27 as the Day of Action in support of Shannen's Dream.

"Shannen Koostachin had a dream of safe schools for First Nations children, of fairness and equity and an education system that values First Nations cultures," stated the National Chief. "Today shows us that young people of all backgrounds understand and believe in this dream.  We must listen to these young leaders and realize that we can make Shannen's Dream a reality simply by doing the right thing. We are the youngest and fastest growing segment of the population. We are the future of this country. Educating our youth and supporting their full potential must be a national priority."

Shannen Koostachin was a young girl from Attawapiskat First Nation who advocated strongly and actively for a safe school for her community and support for First Nations students.  Rather than a school trip, she organized her fellow students to come to Ottawa to speak to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and take part in the AFN's Day of Action on Parliament Hill. On the steps of Parliament Hill, she delivered a message with great strength and conviction asking the federal government to give First Nations children a proper education.  Tragically, Shannen passed away in 2010 at the age of 15. Her legacy is the Shannen's Dream initiative. April 27 has been declared a Day of Action in support of Shaennen's Dream with rallies and activities in various parts of the country.

The AFN has set First Nation education as a national priority and it is one of four key priorities for the election campaign.  First Nations students receive on average $2,000-3,000 per year less in education support than other students in Canada and in some regions the inequity is far greater.  More than 50 First Nation schools are unsafe or condemned. Essential supports like libraries and computers are not funded.  In a speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto earlier this month, the National Chief called on all political parties to commit to equitable and guaranteed support for First Nations.  He noted that while the parties have been quick to commit to 6.6% rate of growth for provincial services, First Nations have been held at only 2 % growth for over a decade.

The National Chief stated: "We can no longer try to rationalize or justify unequal and unfair treatment for our youth, who are already among the most vulnerable in this country.  We know that education is the key to unlock the full potential of our people. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to our youth and we owe it to the memory of Shannen Koostachin to work together for a better, stronger Canada for all of us."

The National Chief is convening a Town Hall on the 2011 Federal Election at the University of Toronto this evening and has invited representatives from all parties to attend to discuss their approach to First Nation issues. They will be asked about First Nation education as part of the discussion. 

More information on the AFN's Town Hall on the 2011 Federal Election can be found at:

More information on Shannen's Dream and the Day of Action can be found at:

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN and National Chief Atleo on Twitter @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms and @NCAtleo


For further information:

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401 or

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer (613) 241-6789, ext 382 or 

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