Shannen Koostachin was a courageous young lady who decided to fight for what she thought was right. Her legacy lives on through her foundation “Shannen’s Dream”.
1979: The JR Nakogee school was built in 1976 was affected by 25,000 gallons of oil poured into the ground near the main education building. In 1995, 30,000 gallons of additional oil affects the region and thus Attawapiskat’s elementary school.
2000: Following the closure of JR Nakogee school, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Robert Nault, promises a new elementary school in the Attawapiskat community. No action will be taken to keep that promise.
2000: The elementary school in Attawapiskat, JR Nakogee, closes its main building due to the health hazards to students and staff. The classrooms are relocated to unsanitary and cold portables. These are called “temporary” solutions by the government, but will still be in use in 2012.
2005: The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Andy Scott, due to inaction on the part of the government to act on his first promise to the community of Attawapiskat, makes a second promise to take action. Again, no action will be taken.
2007: Under the leadership of Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Chuck Strahl, the Canadian federal government puts a stop to the third attempt to build a new elementary school in Attawapiskat. No reason is given.
June 2008: Shannen Koostachin meets Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Chuck Strahl, to discuss her educational experiences in Attawapiskat. Shannen assumes the role of spokesperson for the group. She discusses the realities faced by her community in the news and on Parliament Hill.
2009: Shannen Koostachin, aged 14, was nominated for the International Peace Prize for children. This prize is awarded annually to a child advocate, someone who works to improve the living conditions of children. Shannen is recommended for her work towards a better Aboriginal education in Canada.
2009: Shannen and a group of students from Attawapiskat launched a campaign for a new school and a better education for young people in her community. To date, this initiative is the largest movement for the rights of Canadian children. The group used YouTube and Facebook to spread their message.
September 2009: Shannen and her sister were sent to the Temiskaming District Secondary School in New Liskeard in northern Ontario. This school is located several miles from home. They relocated since their parents believed it necessary for them to receive the best possible education.
May 30, 2010: Shannen Koostachin died at the young age of 15 in a car accident while she studied outside their community. It leaves Attawapiskat grieving another child. A fund in her memory was established to assist the education of other children in the community.
November 17, 2010: After the sudden death of Shannen, some members of the community establish the “Shannen’s Dream” foundation. Its’ mandate is to educate Canadians to the inadequate school funding awarded to Aboriginal Canadian students.
December 2010: Canadian Geographic published an article and a documentary entitled “Still Waiting in Attawapiskat.” The documentary is based on the issue of indigenous education specifically in the case of the Attawapiskat community.
2011: Canadian children published a report to the United Nations calling for an investigation of Canadian education received by indigenous children. The application is reviewed on September 2012 following a speech. The “Shannen’s Dream” is involved in the request.
April 27, 2011: Students marched on Parliament Hill in support of the movement “Shannen’s Dream.” The day of April 27th is proclaimed by Ottawa as the national day of action to Shannen’s Dream.
September 26, 2011: Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay region, supports the project Shannen. To help the project “Shannen’s Dream”, he presents it to the House of Commons as motion 202.
February 27, 2012: The House of Commons unanimously votes in favor of the motion 202 presented the previous year. Shannen’s family is present and receives a standing ovation from Parliament body on her behalf.
June 22, 2012: An elementary school opens in Attawapiskat to replace the portables. The opening coincides with the date that would have been Shannen’s graduation. Her dream for her community finally comes true.
May 1, 2013: All schools in Attawapiskat are closed by the federal government due to damages done by the floods that ravaged the community of Attawapiskat. New schools are promised the same year by the federal government.
September 7, 2013: The documentary by Alanis Obomsawiri, “Hi-Ho Mistahey”, translated in English to “I Love You Forever”, premiers at the International Film Festival in Toronto. The film promotes the idea that a good school is necessary for every Canadian child.
Here are the sources used in this post, you can learn more on the schools in Attawapiskat, Shannen and her foundation by visiting them.