New Kids’ Power Book, Shannen And The Dream For A School, Tells True Story Of An Aboriginal Girl’s Inspirational Fight For “Safe And Comfy” Schools For All Children

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Shannen and the Dream for a School, by award-winning author Janet Wilson, tells the true story of Shannen Koostachin and the people of Attawapiskat, a Cree community in Northern Ontario, who have been fighting for a new school ever since a fuel spill contaminated their original building in 1979.

The cover of Shannen and the Dream for a School

Shannen and the Dream for a School, by Janet Wilson

Part of the Kids' Power series: real stories of kids who have taken action to make their world a better place

Shannen and the Dream for a School, by award-winning author Janet Wilson, tells the true story of Shannen Koostachin and the people of Attawapiskat, a Cree community in Northern Ontario, who have been fighting for a new school ever since a fuel spill contaminated their original building in 1979. The book begins in 2008, almost thirty years after the toxic spill. Thirteen year-old Shannen and the other students at JR Nakogee Elementary are tired of trying to learn in run-down portables that smell and don’t keep out the freezing winter air. In protest, Shannen and her classmates make a YouTube video describing the poor conditions. Their plea for a decent school attracts support from community leaders and children across the nation. Inspired, the students travel to Ottawa where Shannen speaks passionately to the Canadian government about the need to give First Nations children the opportunity to succeed academically. The following summer, Shannen was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize.

Shannen’s passion and determination became a rallying point for communities across Canada and shone a spotlight on the chronic under-funding of First Nations schools. Unfortunately, Shannen will never see her dream for a better school fulfilled – tragically, she died in a car accident in 2010. Shannen’s Dream, the group founded in Shannen’s memory, continues to fight for equitable education for First Nations children in Canada. In June 2011 they brought the status of First Nations education in Canada to the international stage with their “Our Dreams Matter Too” report. The report, which outlines the deplorable conditions of many reservation schools and includes testimonies from Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children across Canada, will stand as a challenge to Canada at the upcoming UN Rights of the Child Convention.

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