Shannen's Dream - Timeline and Documents

2010 - present

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • September 2012

    UN review of Canada’s implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Questions the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child will be asking the Government of Canada.

  • June 11, 2012

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

  • June 2012

    In 2010, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) carried out a formal evaluation of the Elementary/Secondary Education (ESE) Program. Four research contracts were awarded to handle specific lines of research. The evaluation looked at relevancy, performance, and efficiency and economy. It found that a consistent gap between on and off reserve educational opportunities and success does exist, and that improvements are necessary.

    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.

  • March 29, 2012

    Budget 2012 is released, announcing $275 million over three years – an insufficient amount to address school needs or education funding shortfalls. Read Chapter 3.3 of the budget, “Investments to Improve First Nations Funding”. Read the CBC News story.

  • March 6, 2012

    Minister John Duncan and Attawapiskat First Nation announce awarding of construction contract for the new 5808-square-meter school for 540 students from kindergarten to grade 8. No announcement on how Canada plans to address other school needs outlined in the Parliamentary Budget Officer report in 2009. Read the Parliamentary Budget Officer report on First Nations education, May 25, 2009.

    Read the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) press release and CBC News coverage of the announcement.

  • February 27, 2012
  • 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 event - View pictures here!

  • 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. 

  • December 2011

    Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples releases report, Reforming First Nations education: From crisis to hope, calling on the federal government to provide equitable funding for First Nations schools.

  • November 2011

    Report on Priority Actions in View of Improving First Nations Education released as a parallel report to the National Panel on First Nations Education.

  • 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 9, 2011

    Canadian children release report, Our Dreams Matter Too, to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. The report demands an inquiry for First Nations children’s educational inequity in Canada. Read the report, Our Dreams MatterToo: First Nations Children's Rights, Lives and Education.

  • 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 - View pictures here!

  • January 28, 2011

    Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society releases, Jordan & Shannen: First Nations Children demand that the Canadian Government stop racially discriminating against them, a shadow report to the Canada 3rd and 4th Periodic Report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.

  • 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. 

2000 - 2009

  • 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.

  • 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. Read the fact sheet on First Nations education. Watch a video of the apology.

  • June 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.

  • October 31, 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 are still being used in 2012 and are 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.

1990s

  • 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.

  • 1995

    More environmental investigations are conducted finding the school to be contaminated with toxins harmful to human exposure. The school property is rated as a “Level 1, High Sensitive Site.”

  • 1990s

    Attawapiskat children and teachers continue to suffer illness from exposure to carcinogen-laden fumes.

  • 1996

    Consultants recommend removing toxic soil from the school property.

1980s

  • 1984

    INAC (Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) hires consultants to investigate and clean up measures are recommended. No subsequent action is taken.

  • 1982

    Evidence of oil in school foundation and petroleum odour in classrooms.

  • 1982

    The Charter of Rights and Freedoms (The Constitution Act, 1982) is signed. From the Section 35 of the Charter: “(1) The existing aboriginal and treaty rights of the aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed. (2) In this Act, ‘aboriginal peoples of Canada’ includes the Indian, Inuit, and Metis peoples of Canada.” Read the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982.

  • 1980s

    Children of Attawapiskat and teachers get sick from exposure to carcinogen-laden fumes.

1970s

  • 1979

    25 000 Gallons of oil leaks into the soil near the school.

  • 1976

    R Nakogee School is built in Attawapiskat First Nation.

  • 1972

    The Government of Canada begins to phase out Residential Schools.

1960s

  • 1967

    The Education of Indians in Ontario: A Report to the Provincial committee on Aims and Objectives of Education in the Schools of Ontario is published. From the report: “Knowing how much lag can be expected between the formulation of new policies, including the staging of exciting new pilot projects and the general adoption of these principles into the whole system, a key question immediately comes to mind. Taking into account the Indian question in this province, can Ontario afford to wait for this type of glacial change? School board, outlook, supervision, teacher training, textbooks must all be modified. Let someone hazard a guess as to what year or what century significant changes toward real equality will be noted in the achievement of the children,” (Sim, 1967, p. 35).

     

    The Education of Indians in Ontario (Author: R. Alex Sim)

  • 1960

    First Nations people living on reserve are able to vote in federal elections.

Early 1900s

  • June 27, 1921

    Treaty No. 11 is signed, noting in the agreement that First Nations children signed under the Treaty will receive education paid for by the Government of Canada. Read Treaty No. 11.

  • January 1907

    Treaty No. 10 is signed. The preamble to the Treaty states, “As to education, the Indians were assured that there was no need for special stipulation over and above the general provision in the treaty, as it was the policy of the government to provide in every part of the country as far as circumstances would permit, for the education of the Indian children…” Read Treaty No. 10.

  • July - August 1905

    Treaty No. 9 – The James Bay Treaty is signed, guaranteeing educational provisions: “His Majesty agrees to pay such salaries of teachers to instruct the children of said Indians, and also to provide such school buildings and educational equipment as may seem advisable to His Majesty's government of Canada.” Read Treaty No. 9.

1800s

  • June - July 1899

    Treaty No. 8 is signed, noting in the agreement that First Nations children signed under the Treaty will receive education paid for by the Government of Canada. Read Treaty No. 8.

  • September 22 & December 4, 1877

    Treaty No. 7 is signed, noting in the agreement that First Nations children signed under the Treaty will receive education paid for by the Government of Canada. Read Treaty No. 7.

  • April 12, 1876

    The Government of Canada enacts racist legislation, the Indian Act, 1876, aimed at controlling and assimilating the Indigenous population. One of the strategies of the Indian Act, 1876 was to “enfranchise” any First Nations person that obtained post-secondary education, forcing a choice between maintaining basic human rights, or Indigenous rights. While it has undergone many revisions, the Indian Act is still in place today and has not been updated since 1985. Read the Indian Act, 1876 and Indian Act, 1985.

  • August 23 & 28 and September 9, 1876

    Treaty No. 6 is signed. It is stated in the Treaty that, “Her Majesty agrees to maintain schools for instruction in such reserves hereby made as to Her Government of the Dominion of Canada may seem advisable, whenever the Indians of the reserve shall desire it.” Read Treaty No. 6.

  • September 20 & 24, 1875

    Treaty No. 5 is signed. It is stated in the Treaty that, “Her Majesty agrees to maintain schools for instruction in such reserves hereby made as to Her Government of the Dominion of Canada may seem advisable, whenever the Indians of the reserve shall desire it." Read Treaty No. 5.

  • July 20, 1874

    Treaty No. 4 is signed. It is stated in the Treaty that, “Her Majesty agrees to maintain a school in the reserve allotted to each band as soon as they settle on said reserve and are prepared for a teacher.” Read Treaty No. 4.

  • October, 1873

    Treaty No. 3 is signed. The government agrees to “maintain schools for instruction,” on reserves. Read Treaty No. 3.

  • August 21, 1871

    Treaty No. 2 is signed. “Her Majesty agrees to maintain a school on each reserve hereby made whenever the Indians of the reserve should desire it.” Read Treaty No. 2.

  • August 3, 1871

    Treaty No. 1 is signed. “Her Majesty agrees to maintain a school on each reserve hereby made whenever the Indians of the reserve should desire it.” Read Treaty No. 1.

  • 1870s-1990s

    The federal government forces First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children from their home and places them in Residential Schools operated by the church. Many children experience emotional, physical, and sexual abuse while attending the schools. The goal of residential schools was assimilation – punishing the expression of Aboriginal cultures and languages. Read more about the Residential School system.

  • June 22, 1869

    The Gradual Enfranchisement Act, 1869, removes Indian status from women who marry non-status First Nations. Children of that marriage were prevented by the government from obtaining that Indigenous status and rights. Read the Gradual Enfranchisement Act, 1869.

  • March 29, 1867

    The federal government enacts the Constitution Act, 1867 (previously known as the British North America Act), and officially takes control over “Indians and lands reserved for the Indians." Read the Constitution Act, 1867.