APTN National News
NDP MP Charlie Angus has sent Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt a stack of letters from Grade 3 students attending a water-soaked school on the Kashechewan First Nation reserve along the James Bay coast in northern Ontario.
Angus included the students’ letters, which are addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with his own missive to Valcourt sent Thursday and posted on his MP website.
“You will see from these heartfelt messages, that these young people have hopes and dreams of a better future. You can also see the burden they already feel at such a young age by being deprived of access to a quality, ‘comfy’ school which they can feel proud of and that gives them hope,” wrote Angus in the letter. “To this end, I am writing you to take urgent action to provide proper education facilities in Kashechewan First Nation.”
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt’s office did not return a request for comment. The Prime Minister Office did not respond to a question on whether the prime minister ever responded to the Kashechewan student’s letters.
Angus, whose riding includes the community, also included photographs from the school in Kashechewan depicting pieces of the ceiling crumbled on the floor, water stains on the gym floor and a bucket catching drops of water in a classroom.
“It has been five years since the Parliamentary Budget Office released a damning report on the mismanagement of capital spending for school projects at the Department of Aboriginal Affairs,” wrote Angus. “I urge you to read this report and to examine why monies that have been allocated for school projects such as Kashechewan have not flowed despite being approved in the federal budget.”
The children’s letters to Harper are dated from November 2013 and they all begin with, “Dear Stephen Harper.”
In his letter, Austin Noah wrote he wanted to go to “military school” and become a soldier.
“Why are you getting rid of native teachers?” wrote Noah. “A worried student!!”
Adam Friday wrote Harper saying he wanted to be a police officer to “put bad guys in jail,” but needed to finish school to achieve his dream.
“You promised for Native people to get school. It’s not fair for Native people to lose school. I need to go to college to be a police officer,” wrote Friday in a letter signed, “A mad student.”
Angus also asked Valcourt in the letter why $33 million of the $175 million set aside by the department for schools was not spent on places like Kashechewan and simply “re-profiled” into other programs.
“This is not the kind of leadership we need when there is such a clear shortfall in capital spending for education on reserves,” wrote Angus.