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Forget the Politicians – Is the First Nations education bill good for parents and kids?

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Originally published by CBC on April 11, 2014. Read the original here. Vanessa Testawich thinks a lot about First Nations education. The 27-year-old mother of two spends her days teaching her three-year-old son his ABCs while also doing online coursework for dual diplomas in accounting and management. Testawich does this while waiting for her older son to return from his Grade 1 classes in a town near their home on the Duncan’s First Nation in Northwestern Alberta. “My little guy travels on the bus one hour to school and an hour to get back,” she points out. She would prefer he spent...

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WILL FIRST NATIONS CONTROL OF FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION HELP ACHIEVE ‘SHANNEN’S DREAM’?

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Originally published by VICE on March 3, 2014. Click here for the original. Shannen Koostachin was a vibrant and focused 15 year old from Attawapiskat. As a youth, her community’s school was closed due to an oil spill. As a teenager, she became an activist and fought for a new school building, and the broader quest of equal access to education for First Nations kids. Currently, reserve schools funded by the federal government get less money per student than provincial public schools. The graduation rate on reserve is typically half the national average. Shannen died in a car accident in 2010,...

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Debating with Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis paid me a great honour on Canada Reads 2014 by debating The Orenda with me in front of a national audience. We have become friends as a result.

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Spoken Word defence of The Orenda on Canada Reads

This year I'm defending The Orenda on Canada Reads. I opened with a spoken word defence. Check it out here...

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Nelson Mandela: Human Touch

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What I remember most about the day I shook hands with Nelson Mandela is not the firmness of his grip, but rather the power of his presence. In 1998, the world-renowned freedom fighter visited Toronto to launch the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund Canada. Before the public launch of his charity, the former South African president and his wife, Graßa Machel, took time to meet with a group of First Nations people. Most were Grand Chiefs and politicians, but somehow I managed to luck out with an invitation. Before Mandela came to meet with us, we stood around a nondescript conference room, joking...

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