From "Children of the Broken Treaty" a review of the struggle for decent schooling for Indigenous Children in Ontario. This is the other book I read recently I had to keep putting down because of my anger and sadness.
"Year after year we have been asking for a new school...I have made speeches before ...and, honestly, it's starting to get frustrating...Let me ask you something: what did they ever do to deserve this? They are just kids starting their lives and it's not off to a very good start...I want them to lead successful lives, to be known by their culture and traditions and dreams...If you want us to pursue our dreams, then make it happen! -Shannen Koostachin, 15.
They started asking in the 1990's because the school was impossible to heat. Portables with four desks to a classroom were built on land polluted by a broken oil pipe installed by the Canadian Government that leaked benzene gas and in which mould remediation was impossible. The government stonewalled, including using legal obstruction. In 2012-13 the legal bills for the Department of Indian Affairs were $106 million. For the CRA the legal bills were $66 million, and for the RCMP $37 million. Fighting First Nations rights cost more than fighting tax frauds and criminals.
"I have asthma, heart problems, and eczema ... Any parent would not allow their kids to go to a mouldy school, but when you live up north where I am from, it's home, and that's all we have for education...I have two eyes, two ears, two hands, two legs, one head, and one heart. We are no different from other children around the world. Our hearts all beat as one, like the beat of a drum." -Rob Koostachin, 11 years old