Shannen's Dream - Timeline and Documents

We try our best to provide information in both English and French. Unfortunately, French resources are not always available and we will provide them in English. We apologize for the inconvenience.

  • June 3, 2019

    The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls released their Final Report, Reclaiming Power and Place, and Calls for Justice. 

  • December 6, 2016

    The Parliamentary Budget Officer releases a new report on First Nations education, confirming the ongoing shortfall in Federal funding.

    Click here to read the report.

  • June 2, 2017

    Ontario First Nations Special Education Review Report released May 2017.

  • March 2016

    During February and March of 2016, the Ontario First Nations Young Peoples Council of the Chiefs of Ontario conducted a survey in support of the Inquest into the deaths of seven youths in Thunder Bay. The goal of the survey was to learn from the personal experiences of First Nations youth, especially youth that have had to go to school off reserve. More than 100 responses were received from across the province.

  • August 2014

    Kattawapiskak Elementary School opens in Attawapiskat in late August, ending 14 years of children learning in portables.

  • September 7, 2013

    Shannen’s Dream documentary Hi-Ho Mistahey! premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival.

    Hi-Ho Mistahey! tells the story of Shannen Koostachin and the Shannen’s Dream campaign. The film was written and directed by Alanis Obomsawin, a member of the Abenaki First Nation and one of Canada’s most acclaimed documentary filmmakers.

    “Hi-Ho Mistahey” was a favorite phrase of Shannen’s. It means “I love you forever” in Cree. Visit the National Film Board of Canada website to learn more.

  • July 11, 2013

    The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) releases a report entitled First Nations School Infrastructure Funding Requirements: British Columbia.
    This report responds to a request from a parliamentarian to follow-up on a 2009 PBO report, using new data to estimate the costs of First Nations K 12 educational infrastructure in British Columbia. This report uses information from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and a survey conducted by the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the PBO. 
  • 2013

    Minister John Duncan promises the new school will be open in Attawapiskat for the 2013/2014 school year. 

  • June 11, 2012

    Our Dreams Matter Too, walk for culturally based equity for First Nations children.

  • June 2012

    Eight recommendations were developed in conjunction with an action plan. The recommendations include, but are not limited to: develop a strategic and transparent framework to allocate funds to enhance student success; conduct research on funding allocation methodologies, equitable to provincial approaches and accounting for cost-realities on reserve; ensure that future policy clearly defines roles and responsibilities within the ESE program; work with First Nations to improve culture and language retention; work with First Nations to improve accessibility for students with special needs; and explore the possibility of the incorporation of early childhood education and adult programming into AANDC ESE programming. 

  • February 14, 2012

    Have a Heart Day: a campaign to give First Nations children the same chance to grow up safely at home, get a good education, be healthy, and proud of their cultures. Hundreds of students and supporters joined together on Parliament Hill for the 1st year.

  • February 8, 2012

    Final Report released by the National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education. Read the report.

  • February 6, 2012

    Six First Nations Youth Ambassadors travel to Geneva to present to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. 

  • October 24, 2011

    First Nations Child and Family Caring Society & KAIROS release, Honouring the Children, a shadow report to the Canada 3rd and 4th Periodic Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

  • June 2011

    The Auditor General of Canada releases a status report noting that the federal government’s efforts to close the gap in education between First Nations and the general population have been “unsatisfactory”. Read Auditor General's the report.

  • April 27, 2011

    Shannen’s Dream Day of Action. Hundreds of students gather at Parliament Hill in support of equal educational rights for First Nations children.

  • December 7, 2010

    Minister Chuck Strahl promises a new school for Attawapiskat First Nation in the House of Commons.

  • November 17, 2010

    Shannen’s Dream is launched by children from Attawapiskat First Nation. The Canadian Coalition for Human Rights makes a special presentation of an award recognizing Shannen’s work advancing the education rights of children. Watch a video on Shannen’s Dream.

  • June 2010

    At the age of 15, Shannen dies tragically in a car accident while attending school away from home. 

  • December 8, 2009

    Minister Chuck Strahl announces to First Nations chiefs that negotiations for a new school would begin immediately.

  • May 25, 2009

    Parliamentary Budget Officer releases report on First Nations schools. Read the report.

  • February 2009

    First Nations Education Council releases Background paper on First Nations Education Funding. Read the report.

  • 2009

    School is demolished and toxic debris is dumped one kilometer away from Attawapiskat homes.

  • June 11, 2008

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologizes for the Government of Canada’s role in the residential school system to which over 150 000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit were sent against their will and consent of their families. There are approximately three times as many First Nations children in care than during the height of the residential schools era, and receive $2000-3000 less per child in education funding. Watch a video of the apology. 

  • May 2008

    Shannen met with Minister Chuck Strahl to ask for a new school. The minister said the Government of Canada could not afford it. Shannen then does a presentation on the steps of the House of Commons saying she "will never give up" until every First Nations child has a proper education. This is the picture featured on the Shannen's Dream poster.

  • April 1, 2008

    The Attawapiskat First Nation is told that the school is not in the Long Term Five-Year Capital Plan due to other priorities, and that Minister Chuck Strahl does not have the authority to provide a guarantee for infrastructure projects.

  • November 13, 2007

    Attempts to spread the cost for the school over a number of years are rejected by INAC. INAC maintains publicly that there are no risks to the health and safety of the students. At this time, INAC was aware that the portables were overcrowded and in need of extensive repair. Read the documents obtained through Access to Information requests.

  • September 26, 2007

    The School Planning Capital Study is completed, and the Attawapiskat First Nation seeks a Ministerial Guarantee on a $30 million bank loan to build the school.

  • June 30, 2007

    Minister Jim Prentice approves plans to build the new school, but does not deliver on this commitment.

  • February 23, 2007

    Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (Caring Society) file complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) alleging that Canada is racially discriminating against First Nations children by providing less child welfare funding, and thus benefit, on reserves. Read the complaint.

  • 2006-2007

    INAC builds an addition to the secondary school.

  • 2006

    Attawapiskat begins to prepare a School Capital Planning Study with funding from INAC.

  • 2005

    Minister Andy Scott promises to build a new school but nothing is done.

  • 2004

    The Auditor General of Canada releases a report on First Nations education, noting that limited progress had been made on the recommendations outlined in the previous report in 2000. Read the report.

  • 2000 - 2001

    INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) erects 14 portable classrooms to be used as “temporary” classrooms between the contaminated property of the former school and an airstrip. These portables were still being up until 2014 and were in unacceptable condition.

  • May 11, 2000

    The Attawapiskat First Nation Education Authority closes the elementary school due to health and safety concerns related to fuel contamination.

  • April 2000

    The Auditor General of Canada releases a report on First Nations education. The report raises concerns over the wide gap in First Nations education, and provides recommendations to the Government of Canada. Read the report.

  • January 2000

    Additional environmental consultants assess the property and recommend “Class 1, Action Required.” In addition to the contamination related to the fuel spillage, five species of mould were found.

  • 2000

    Minister Robert Nault promises to build a new school but nothing is done.

  • 1997

    With approval from INAC, a partial clean-up of the contaminated soil on the school property was completed.

  • 1996

    Report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) is published. The report notes that funding is “basic” for on-reserve education, and regulations permit little, if any, leeway for culture-based curriculum. Read the Volume 3 Chapter 5 of the RCAP report.