p2pnet news | P2P:- “During a visit with Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl in his Parliament Hill office yesterday, young Shannen Koostachin says she looked him straight in the eye and told him: ‘I wish our school looked like this’.”
The quote is from a Toronto Star story on yesterday’s demonstration by First Nations people to focus attention on the plight of the isolated Cree community living at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River where it meets James Bay in Northern Ontario.
But there’s no chance of Shannon’s plea being heard. Because Strahl has turned yet another government deaf ear.
“I don’t want others to go to school in portables that leak, windows don’t open, washroom doors don’t close and ceilings are cracked,” p2pnet had her saying in our second post on the issue.
It was called Canada’s Shame, Part II.
“This is not an atmosphere for learning,” she states.
We went on that she used to be one of the forgotten children but, “But not any more because P2P, People to People power, is helping her tell not only other Canadians, but the whole world, just how disgracefully the Canadian government is treating her and all the other local children.
“She and her friends in Attawapiskat are entitled to exactly the same resources kids in other parts of Canada receive as a matter of routine
“Instead, the conditions under which they’re expected to learn resemble those found only in the poorest of developing countries.”
In the Star story, “These conditions have existed since 2000, when the elementary school, built on contaminated ground, was deemed unsafe and closed,” says Strahl.
It continues >>>
On several occasions, previous federal governments promised a new school.
Negotiations progressed until, last year, the Conservative government suddenly froze funds for new schools on First Nations reserves.
Yesterday, Strahl insisted in a statement the portables “are not a health and safety issue” for the children.
He said the community wants a permanent school, “and understandably, that’s what they’d like.”
But Ottawa has already paid about $5 million on portables, said Strahl, as well as spending money on an adjoining high school so elementary students can use the gymnasium.
The minister said he prioritizes infrastructure needs of First Nations schools, starting with health and safety and “the facilities in Attawapiskat are not as high up as some unfortunate schools that are in worse shape.”
NDP digital culture spokesman Charlie Angus has for years been campaigning on behalf of the Attawapiskat kids, telling p2pnet recently it’s the cause closest to his heart.
Here’s p2pnet’s first story on. It’s called Attawapiskat: Canada’s shame >>>>>>>>>
Canada is spending a fortune in foreign aid to help impoverished countries.
There`s nothing wrong with that. But charity should also be applied equally at home and in Canada, we have impoverished First Nations whose people are treated as third or fourth class citizens â- if they`re lucky enough to be considered at all while millions of dollars in government largess go abroad.
However, the Net can help.
For the first time in history, people communicate directly with each other around the world, and where governments fail, frequently putting corporate interests in front of those who elected them, cyber citizens can make things happen.
The Wikipedia describes Attawapiskat as an isolated Cree community in Northern Ontario, at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River where it drains into James Bay.
Local children used to study at the J.R. Nakogee School, built in the 1970s. Then, in 2000, it was permanently closed after a massive diesel leak seriously contaminated the area.
Now, There are currently some 400 students struggling for an education in crowded portables, says Attawapiskat online, going on >>>
During a rainstorm on July 2, 2005 the roof over the old library in the unoccupied contaminated school collapsed. This old school is connected to Vezina Secondary School by an unused corridor. There is concern that the collapse of the roof poses a health and safety threat to the Secondary School. A common sprinkler system connects both buildings. The collapse of the roof is placing a strain on this system and it is feared that the pipes could rupture – causing another flood.
Another concern is that fuel oil distribution system is common to both buildings and there is fear that these pipes could rupture as well – adding to the contamination and possibly affecting the safety of the secondary school building.
Six studies conducted over the past 12 years have confirmed continuing pollution from contaminants which could seriously affect the health of staff and the children.
Existing facilities are basic, with none of the supplementary resources schools in other parts of the province have available, says the Wikipedia, going on:
Parents in the community are now starting to hold their children back from attending the school, or are seeking education in other communities.
And the situation is deteriorating.
Charlie Angus, NDP spokesman for digital issues, is among those who are trying to force federal Indian Affairs minister Chuck Strahl to honour his obligation to build a grade school for Attawapiskat children.
Because the situation isn`t merely bad, it`s mind-boggling.
How can Canada, which presents itself to the world as a country where people come first, allow this kind of situation to develop, let alone go on for year after year?
Angus says there was an agreement signed between the government of Canada and Attawapiskat to build a new school, says the Netnewsledger.
These children have not had a school for the past 7 years because a diesel spill contaminated the soil underneath JR Nakogee School over 25 years ago, the post has him saying.
Government after government and Minister after Minister, including Jim Prentice, said they would rectify the problem.
Well here we are in 2008 and there`s no new school and the government now says students will have to wait another 5 years.
Click here for a video of Angus on the situation. Below is a video dramatically showing the situation as it still is.
Is this your Canada? – asks Taking it Global?
- Where Native children are not entitled to the same educational rights as Non-Native children?
- Where Native schools are forced to meet provincial education standards but are denied the same resources for schooling, resources and special education funding?
- Where the Federal government can rip up an agreement to build a school in Attawapiskat because building schools for First Nation children is not a priority for the government of Canada?
If you think it`s wrong, please attend to voice your opinion and learn what you can do about this crisis, says the story, adding:
Let the government know we won`t tolerate something like this in Canada!!
If you`re Canadian and you care, help by getting this on Slashdot, Digg, del.icio.us, Technorati, Stumbledupon, and anywhere else you can think of.
Start a Facebook group.
This might be OK for the likes of him and Prentice, but it`s not OK by citzens of the digital 21st century.
Angus and everyone in the community had hoped yesterday’s demonstration on Parliament Hill would lead to immediate improvements. But that’s not to be. At least, not for the moment.
As Strahl points out in his efforts to get around the fact once again, the Canadian government has reneged on its promises to the tiny Cree community, it’s not the only one surviving under dire conditions.
“In March, Strahl told Canada AM that the situation was unfortunate but there were more pressing concerns in the native education budget,” says CTV.
But far from offering a plausible excuse, his argument only serves to dramatically underscore a sad reality:
That Canada, which routinely sends millions of dollars in cash and kind to countries hit by weather and other disasters, won’t honour its long-standing obligations to the people who were here long before Strahl and his forebears, but who continue to live in conditions which can only be described as shameful.
However, the game is far from over.
Thanks to the Net and the fact people around the world now share with each other one-on-one, group-on-group, community-to-community, this won’t be the end of it.
Not by a long shot.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
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