Thursday, July 28, 2011

This is an Education Issue...

Over the summer of 1990, I saw something extraordinary happen.  I witnessed, via television and the newspapers and the words of my Elders, a group of Mohawks stand up to the governments and armed forces around them and say “No more!”
I witnessed nation after nation, all across this land stand up with them and say “No more!”
And I started to pay attention.
There was a swagger in the steps of the Native students who rode the bus with me to school in the Fall.  I remember that I started to challenge my teachers more on some of the things we were learning in class.  My big public speaking speech was on the Kanehsatatá:ke Resistance.  I left Social Studies angry quite often.
All around me, things were changing.  Governments were actually starting to sort of listen to the grievances of Aboriginal people.  Courts began to recognize Aboriginal Rights and started telling everyone that they needed to be recognized and respected. The last twenty years have actually been sort of a renaissance for Aboriginal people, a re-awakening if you will.
I have shared with you, struggles we face in the education system, the most important posts being those early ones Why do we need AboriginalEducation? and What’s at Stake.  I have brought forth my hopes and concerns about what I have seen as a fallback in some areas of Aboriginal education and raised some issues that need to be addressed ( I hope).
I was always hopeful.
Then I saw the news items below.  I won’t recap them, read them yourselves, but I will say that they are alarming, scary and disappointing.  What hope is there in recommendations out of an inquiry if we aren’t going to let the voices of the victims be heard?  What hope is there that we will continue on the path towards reconciliation when the governments of this country seem so intent on returning to the status quo founded in a pre-Oka era?  When we can’t even get the government to recognize our right to clean water, what hope is there?  What hope is there, when we can’t protect our women and children?  Work without giving up a piece of who we are as Aboriginal people?
Aboriginal education is not just about getting Aboriginal kids graduated.  Aboriginal Education is about educating the general population about the history and lived experiences of Aboriginal people so that some form of fairness might be brought forth.  We shouldn’t have to live in fear that our women and children will disappear.  We live at the whims of the Governments of this country, much more so than any other Canadian; and the changes in policy, the changes in economy, and any changes are felt much more acutely by many Aboriginal families.
The fact that the Governments are changing the rules again is unacceptable.  This is an education issue.
The fact that it feels like we are quietly setting aside the progress that has been made over the last twenty years is unacceptable.  This is an education issue.
The fact we are becoming invisible again is unacceptable. 
This is an education issue. 

Ottawa bargaining in bad faith on land claims, native groupssay

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