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No School for the Forgotten Children of Attawapiskat, Ontario (Part I)

Updated on November 3, 2018

Children in the northern community of Attawapiskat, Ontario have been without a proper school building for over thirty years. The first school that was built for them in 1979 had the grounds infected as a result of a diesel spill soon after the building took place. That school was closed and demolished in 2001 after teachers and children were experiencing head-aches and dizziness. The government issued portables for the public school kids, which were placed next to the diesel infected field (which to this day has not been cleaned). Many empty promises have been made by the government over the years and still, the children there, are now attending school in unsafe and unhealthy conditions.

The portables in which kids go to school are in a deplorable state: gusts of wind are coming from underneath the doors, there are ventilation problems and recently a grade two teacher slipped down the stairs and injured her back. At the entrance of the community center which has a gymnasium used by the elementary school and the high-school, there is a giant puddle of water because the roof is leaking. Near that puddle there are electrical wires running along the ground. To the right of the entrance there are large cracks visible in the wall and ceiling. The gym is also not properly ventilated and walking in the equipment room one can see that there are spots of black mold growing all over the ceiling.

The community of Attawapiskat just seems to be forgotten by everyone. There is an enormous housing problem as well and as of January 18th, 2011 the office of Chief Theresa Spence stated that: THM (Trihalomethane) levels for the drinking water exceed the Ontario drinking water standard. This is the norm for some people living in Ontario, Canada.

For over thirty years, politicians have neglected the needs of the people of Attawapiskat. It is now the time to bring awareness to this matter and to ask politicians to act decisively in solving the educational problems which Canadian children face. It is simply unfair and inhumane to allow the kids in this country to endure such conditions in order to attend public school.

NDP MP Charlie Angus introduced Motion 571, which calls for an equal standard of education to be applied for all children in Canada. That motion must become law and a school in Attawapiskat needs to be built without further delay. Kids are indeed suffering and they are not receiving the level of education they deserve. Considering that the public school experience is the foundation to one’s life and knowledge, it is important that all children are given the chance to learn. The future depends on them.

(Note: The new, Kattawapiskak Public School was finally opened on September, 2014.)

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