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A Birthday Wish

Updated on June 1, 2011

Yes, today is my birthday. I am not looking for happy birthday wishes – but for those who are aware of who Shannen Koostachin was, today they/we are celebrating her short but most meaningful life. Shannen was a young girl from the community of Attawapiskat, Ontario.

She, like many other Native American children attended her years of public school in portables – actual buildings are not always available on Native Reserves (for many, many reasons). You can see those portables if you care in my article titled “No school for the forgotten children of Attawapiskat, Ontario”. When she entered high-school, Shannen began her fight for an actual public school building. She started it all on her own: on social websites at first. Nobody realized the momentum that Shannen added to the issue of educational needs on Native Reserves, until she ended-up on Parliament Hill talking to politicians. She dreamed of every Aboriginal child to have a public school to go to. For just a high-school student, I think that is fantastic. She was a role model for everyone.

Yet, her life was cut short by a tragic car accident. Her dream though, of every Native child to have a public school building to attend to remains: it is Shannen’s Dream ( Shannen can no longer put-up a fight for her community but her father, Mr. Andrew whom I had the pleasure to briefly meet, has continued her work. Her sisters as well and many, many other people have gotten involved now in order to fix the educational problems which many aboriginal children face in Canada.

So, my wish on my birthday and on the day of Shannen’s Memorial ( is for every child not only in Canada but in the whole world, to have the possibility to go to school and achieve a level of education that can be helpful to them at a later time.

Shannen lives through many people, including myself. I often think of her and today: it is her day.


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    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      9 years ago from Isle of Man

      I will do as you suggest and read part one.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      9 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      Mr. Spirit Whisperer, this blog is part of the "No School" series. It is about the children of Attawapiskat, Ontario. You would have to start with part one to understand the issue better.

      "free education for all is not necessarily the best thing either" - I spoke about Canadian children, "having the possibility" to go to school. The question at hand is, why some kids deserve to have an actual public school building, while some other kids (aboriginal children) must attend classes in broken-down portables? That is the question Mr. Spirit Whisperer and that is the main issue.

      All the best.

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      9 years ago from Isle of Man

      Happy Birthday Wolfman Jack and you are very thoughtful to dedicate this hub to Shannen. I don't fully understand the pain that you are referring to here. This great woman is an inspiration to us all and her life is a celebration and not something to feel sad about. I have worked in schools where it was law for a child to receive education up to the age of 16 and seen how little that was appreciated by many even when all the books and stationery were provided free of charge. It is only when the ego loses something that it values it so free education for all is not necessarily the best thing either.

      Your hub has brought up issues and once again you make us think and I thank you for that.

    • W. B. Isley profile image

      W. B. Isley 

      10 years ago from Monett, MO

      With a calling like this, can one ever have a happy birthday? We create the world we live in, so, create a good one that everyone can live and be happy in. God's speed to you.

    • fucsia profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for sharing, for remember that exist people that believe in the dreams and fight for them.

    • randslam profile image

      Rand Zacharias 

      10 years ago from Vernon, British Columbia

      Why is it always a sad, tragic car crash? It makes one want to walk, stay in bed or just think about how many educated, talented folks have been killed by tragedies in a vehicular incident.

      Sorry, Mr. Happy, for your loss, but kudos to your drive to create a helping hand for Shannen's legacy.

      Writing a book about a heartbreaking life is all fine and good, but the tragic consequences of youthful lives do continue hurt for the forever young and the old with memories of what could have been.

      My birthday comes up in a week and celebration seems a trifle meaningless unless we write those memoires of what has been, could have been, and still, could be--if we find the passion. Thanks, kallini, for your thoughts--writing your own story is a very important first step.

    • kallini2010 profile image


      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      It does not happen too often when I am stuck for words...

      It's truly commendable for you to have the passion ... no, this is wrong, nobody commends anyone on passion, it is either there or not, and to carry that flame you need a lot of courage and determination ...

      To make it a mission of your life - but are you ready to carry the flag that high? I have not asked you ... You may very well be ready.

      I had come across an assignment (of sorts), it is still within "soul-searching" and the idea is to treat your life is a book and come up with the title and to name at least one chapter of it, which describes you at least now.

      I have certain difficulties with coming up with something as dramatic as the title for my life, or the Chapter ("Now"), but there are two things lying around the desk:

      1) "If a dream is big enough, the facts don't count" (it is something like a button, God knows from where)

      2) "Don't bend; don't water it down; don't try to make it logical; don't edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly." Franz Kafka

      I think to be able to "make it happen", you need to have an obsession, an eternal fire inside of you, the drive - if you can do it ... you can do anything.

    • Mr. Happy profile imageAUTHOR

      Mr. Happy 

      10 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      You know the pain I carry then, Mr. Diogenes.

      May Wakan Tanka walk with us. All the best.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      The weight of other's pain and suffering in this world is becoming impossible to bear. Bob


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