Op-ed: Back to work, school, routine...and the election
- John Lagimodiere | September 14, 2015
There’s something about September and back to school that is special. I’m not sure if it is just a Saskatchewan thing or not, but in July and August, business and life slow down and it becomes all about the kids and living and loving like a hippie in this beautiful province of ours. Then it all changes, and life gets back on schedule again.
We certainly notice at the paper. In the summer, press conferences are few and far between. There are no big gatherings for business....the only happenings are Back to Batoche or the many powwows and other cultural events that occur over summer. It’s kind of a nice break from the hectic life we lead the other ten months of the year.
But inevitably we see the rise of back to school in press releases in mid to late August. Renewed funding was announced for GDI so the SUNTEP program could continue. The FSIN and the province signed an education protocol. The University of Saskatchewan says the Red Bear Aboriginal Students Centre will open this fall. FNUC and Parkland Regional College signed an agreement to deliver the four-year Bachelor of Indigenous Education program at Parkland College’s Yorkton Campus and the University of Regina announced Aboriginal place names for the new dorms on campus.
The Saskatoon Catholic School Board will also be raising the Métis flag at St Michael’s School to celebrate the start of the Métis program there. Then with the first day of school, it is like a switch is flipped and we go fast forward into life and we welcome back our students as they return to learn and prepare for the real world.
Now, the summer is great, but sadly it doesn’t fix many of the problems we face because there is still a lot of need out there. 500 backpacks were given away at the White Buffalo Youth Lodge and they had to lock the doors and turn away families because the demand was so high. These families need those donations to help their kids have the supplies for school. We are also still struggling to get proper education resources to the students in our reserve schools. The recent protocol signed between the Province and FSIN is all good but it does not bring dollars.
The people who can change the education underfunding situation are the government. And the only way to make that happen is to vote (bet you thought this wasn’t going to be a get out and vote piece, eh?). Current federal funding of education on reserve is short by about 30 per cent. That’s a lot. And the only way to get that funding up to par is to vote in a government that commits to it.
Now recently we had some confusion on the voting front when Assembly of First Nations Chief Perry Bellegarde launched a campaign to get people to vote but then said that he himself didn’t intend to vote...but now he has changed his mind and decided to vote. He says he talked to Elders, leaders and youth across Canada, but we think he is hearing the message of Ashley (Burnham) Callingbull, the first Canadian and first First Nations woman to win the Mrs. Universe pageant.
The 25-year-old Enoch Cree Nation beauty is unbelievably gorgeous, smart and talented and apparently very outspoken. She has already raised the hackles of old Conservative war boots with her strong anti-Harper messages and her urging Aboriginal people to vote. Her one tweet says it all: “I urge all First Nations people in Canada to vote in this upcoming election. We are in desperate need of a new PM. Fight for your rights.” This Tweet had over 1000 retweets. How is that for reaching the masses?
Congratulations to Ashley, by the way. If you want to see more of her, she is in the APTN show Blackstone and has a Facebook page with over 100,000 followers. This officially makes her kind of a big deal. And with more role models like her in the community, our young students have more and more people to look up to and aspire to be.
The October edition is always the role model edition and we will be profiling some people, businesses and organizations that are leaders in the community. And if you didn’t notice, silly season (politics) is upon us, and in October we will elect a Prime Minister and the Chiefs and delegates of the FSIN will elect three new leaders, including the Chief. We will have the low-down on voting for you as well as the list of those brave enough to put their names forward for the FSIN positions.