We are Grade 11 and 12 students at Milton District High School and are all enrolled in the Social Justice Specialist High Skills Major Program. This program gives us the opportunity in our senior years of high school to specialize, gain qualifications, and plan a career pathway in various areas of the Non-Profit sector.
We are passionate about social justice and believe that we have the ability to create change. Last fall we were fortunate enough to hear from a guest speaker, Kevin Lamoureux from the University of Winnipeg and the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation. Mr Lamoureux wouldn’t accept compensation for the speaking engagement, but instead asked us to make a donation to the First Nations Caring Society. It was through the First Nations Caring Society page that we learned about Shannen’s Dream.
It seems like a given that every child in Canada would receive a proper education: a quality education that is equitable and culturally responsive. When reading about Shannen Koostachin, we learned that this is not the case. We were moved by Shannen’s story: a young girl, who, along with her classmates in their community of Attawapiskat First Nation, fought for a new school after a diesel spill near their existing school was making everyone sick. Shannen’s leadership was inspiring, as she spoke passionately about children’s rights to thousands of people. Although a new school was finally built, Shannen tragically passed away before seeing her dream realized.
Shannen’s story is just one reminder of how fortunate we are to have access to the facilities for the education that we deserve. This same opportunity should be available to all students in Canada, regardless of where they live.
We see Shannen as an important role model. As we pause and reflect on Orange Shirt Day and the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we are reminded of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action 62-65, which highlight the necessity of intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect. These calls to action highlight the need for culturally relevant and safe education.
Please consider donating to Shannen’s Dream. School is a time for dreams, every kid deserves this - Shannen Koostachin
Link to donate: Shannen's Dream