Students and educators from across Canada came together on April 27 in support of Shannen’s Dream, an organization formed in the wake of youth leader Shannen Koostachin’s death, and called for the end to apartheid in First Nations education.

Koostachin tragically lost her life in a car accident in 2010 but in the years leading up to her death the Attawapiskat Cree girl garnered the country’s attention by standing up to Indian Affairs and demanding that the children in her community finally receive what they had been promised for over a decade.

After winning the battle for a new school in 2010, it became Koostachin’s dream that every First Nations child in Canada have access to what she described as “safe and comfy schools”, that featured culturally based education.

First Nations education is funded $2000-$3000 less per student annually resulting in a lower standard of education on reserves throughout Canada.

On April 27, students from an Ottawa school organized a march to Parliament Hill to present letters of support for their First Nation peers to the federal government in support of Shannen’s Dream.

“Today shows us that young people of all backgrounds understand and believe in this dream. We must listen to these young leaders and realize that we can make Shannen’s Dream a reality simply by doing the right thing. We are the youngest and fastest growing segment of the population. We are the future of this country. Educating our youth and supporting their full potential must be a national priority,” said National Grand Chief Shawn Atleo in support of the event.

While the federal government has yet to budge on making changes to First Nations education, events were held around the country to remember the life of the young leader and celebrate her life.

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