Listen to the young people of Kashechewan

This month, young people from Kashechewan First Nation arrived in Ottawa to ask that a proper elementary school be built in their community. Located on James Bay, elementary students in the community have been out of school since the beginning of this school year as the portables where classes have been held for the past ten years have been declared mouldy and unhealthy.

  Youth in Kashechewan raise their voices, photo posted by Charlie Angus on Twitter, September 8, 2018

Youth in Kashechewan raise their voices, photo posted by Charlie Angus on Twitter, September 8, 2018

Prior to their visit to the Capital, MP Charlie Angus went to the community to raise awareness about the situation. On his Twitter account he posted images and video from the community, exposing the conditions in the temporary portables. If you fast forward to two minutes into the video below, you can see Mr. Angus inspect the foundations of the portables.

This video was posted by Charlie Angus on YouTube., September 14, 2018

On September 17th, two busloads of young people arrived in Ottawa to speak to members of the government including Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott. They also spoke to the media and held a rally on Parliament Hill.

  Curtis Koostachin’s (Kashechewan First Nation) speech, posted on Twitter by reporter Jorge Barrera, September 17th, 2018

Curtis Koostachin’s (Kashechewan First Nation) speech, posted on Twitter by reporter Jorge Barrera, September 17th, 2018

A temporary solution is now in place where the 400 elementary students will now use space in the high school (which houses an additional 200 students) in shifts. However, the people of Kashechewan still want a proper elementary school building for their young people.

This week as I was teaching about Residential Schools, my teacher candidates stated over and over “we can never let this happen again in the future.” To me, the horrible conditions found in many schools located on reserve, and the persistent under funding of First Nations education is absolutely a continuation of the devaluing of Indigenous people through schooling in the PRESENT. This week, I am going to share these resources with my students, and challenge them to think of practical ways they can contribute to raising awareness of this issue. I hope you might join me in spreading the word in your schools and classrooms.

You can find out more about the situation in Kashechewan using the following links:

Kashechewan students travel to Ottawa with message for government (APTN)

I want to be treated like other kids in Canada (CBC KIDS NEWS)

Kashechewan kids lobby Ontario for new school (CBC)

Kashechewan Chiefs declares status of emergency as school portables deemed unsafe for students (CBC)

You can find out more about the history of Kashechewan First Nation at the following links:

Kashechewan First Nation (Wikipedia)

What you need to know about Kashechewan (CTV)

Inside Kashechewan (The Walrus)