Schools need more awareness of mental health issues teen advisor says
- Brendan Mayer | January 02, 2021
A Dakota/Cree student at Leask Community School is one of 12 teens advising the education minister about the school from a student’s perspective.
Dahnis Duquette represents the Prairie Spirit School Division on the 2020-21 provincial youth council, which gives feedback to Education Minister Dustin Duncan and other government officials.
“I think it’s important to get more Indigenous people in positions of power,” Duquette said. “I like to live life as a leader.
Duquette says there could be more awareness of mental health and marginalized groups. Her goals are to improve the education system for the next generation and make it more welcoming for all people.
“Our responsibilities are to provide input on how our schools are doing and how our school divisions are doing and come up with ideas on how we can make changes to the education system,” she said.
Dahnis is a role model who does well academically and volunteers in school, said Leask Community School vice-principal Lisa Kuchler.
“She is a fitting person to be able to speak out about going to a school that is predominantly Aboriginal. She fosters others to think outside the box,” Kuchler said.
The council is also discussing safe learning environments, skills for participation in society and relationships between systems and structures.
“We are in the planning stage. We are focusing on diversity, inclusivity and mental health awareness. We are trying to figure out what we’re going to do.”
Duquette is hoping to take Indigenous health studies at the University of Regina after finishing high school.
“I have a real passion for Indigenous issues because it’s something that really affects me, my people and my family,” she said.
“Dahnis is quite knowledgeable about Indigenous people in her community,” Kuchler said. “She has witnessed and experienced many of the things that impact Indigenous youth today.”
Duquette was born in Glasgow, Montana and has lived in Leask since she was a toddler.
“Everyone knows everyone in Leask,” she said. “We are all pretty connected. I think that really helps me. It gives me a support system of people that I’ve known all my life. Maintaining healthy relationships is a good skill I’ve learned here.”