I’ve been traveling a lot in the past while. I went to Eastmain for the Grand Council/Cree Regional Authority Annual General Assembly. One of the discussions I had was on meals for students. I was told that a meal program was refused because it was the parents’ responsibility to feed their children. I felt this was a red herring as a hungry child doesn’t learn. Feed the kids and then you can feed their minds. Later on you can work on parents’ responsibilities but you need to be able to teach the kids first. Daniel Mark Stewart, Eastmain’s school commissioner, said the Cree School Board is more open these days and would be willing to look at this issue. I know in the past Petit Dejeuner was willing to extend its programs into the Cree communities.

In Mistissini, the Matoush family reunion was a blast. I had Amy write about it because I would have had a conflict of interest as I was a direct descendent of my great-grandparents William and Louise Matoush. Out of around 500 descendants from these two people there were so many youth. A lot of other families across the Cree Nation have grown as large. Many do not graduate though with even a high school diploma. Looking at all the children I wondered how many of them would.

I remember when I was in high school the help I got from guidance counselors. They gave me a test to see what I was interested in, my strengths and what potential careers I would be happy in. Then we looked at potential places where I could get a job or where to post-secondary studies to enable me in a career. This is needed in Eeyou Istchee.

The Cree Human Resources Development (CHRD) has done a great job in looking at the jobs in Eeyou Istchee but a new study is needed. One that examines not only the employment opportunities in the Cree communities but also what the Plan Nord will create. Some will be short-term and others long-term. We need to give the youth hope that a bright future awaits them and to let them know what tools and level of education they need to have a career.

At this year’s Cree Achievement Awards Benefit Golf Tournament, I saw those who have graduated and the careers they have. Education has really created opportunities for those who have desire and courage to make it part of their lives. More and more Crees are a part of activities like this and they can afford it. The good life is waiting for any Cree willing to learn what they need to know.

A lack of education and proof of it is the reason why many face hardships. I encourage all to get an education. There are many ways to achieve this. You can contact Continuing Education and complete your high school diploma, contact the CHRD and they’ll tell you what programs they have that can fit your needs or simply apply to the Cree School Board.

In any case going back to school, whether it is a high school, trade school, CEGEP, college or university is always a great idea. It gives you more options on a better future for you and those you share your life with.