Friday, April 15, 2016

NFB & Tedtalk - The People of the Kattawapiskak River

Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary The People of the Kattawapiskak River exposes the housing crisis faced by 1,700 Cree in Northern Ontario, a situation that led Attawapiskat’s band chief, Theresa Spence, to ask the Canadian Red Cross for help. With the Idle No More movement making front page headlines, this film provides background and context for one aspect of the growing crisis.

From Wikipedia

Shannen Koostachin (1996-2010) Attawapiskat captured the hearts of Canadians in her struggle to call attention to the deficiencies in education in her home community. After her untimely death in a car accident Shannen's Dream was formed[101] Shannen's Dream is a student and youth focused campaign designed to raise awareness about inequitable funding for First Nations children, and encourages supporters to write letters to their Member of Parliament, to the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and to the Prime Minister of Canada.

To accompany this movement, Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus reintroduced Shannen's Dream as Motion 201 to the House of Commons of Canada on September 26, 2011.[102] On February 27, 2012, the House of Commons unanimously voted in favour of the motion.[103]

 She attended J.R. Nakogee elementary school, which had been housed in makeshift portables since 2000, when it was condemned and closed due to a decades-old fuel leak.[104] 

 By 2007, the federal government had backed away from a third commitment to building a new school for Attawapiskat.[105]

In response Shannen and others turned to YouTube and Facebook to launch the Students Helping Students campaign for a school for Attawapiskat.[106][107]

Shannen spoke out about the experiences of her community in newspapers, at conferences, and on the steps of Parliament Hill. In 2008, at the age of 14, she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize.[108] 

Shannen and her older sister, Serena, moved hundreds of kilometres away from Attawapiskat to New Liskeard, Ontario, for high school. She died on June 1, 2010 in a car accident.[109] Shannen's Dream Campaign has continued after her death.

Theresa Spence, the former Chief (2010-2015), brought Attawapiskat to international attention when she declared a state of emergency in 2011.[73][99][100] She was a prominent figure in the Attawapiskat housing and infrastructure crisis,[73] and other First Nations issues. Prior to serving as chief, she was the deputy chief of Attawapiskat.

Shannen Koostachin and Serena Koostachin speaking at the Ontario Federation of Labour Convention Nov. 27, 2009.

They were leaders in the Attawapiskat School Campaign. Shannen died on June 1, 2010 at the age of 15. Out of her death, the Shannens Dream campaign for equal rights for Canadian First Nation children was launched. On February 27, 2011, the Canadian Parliament adopted "Shannens Dream." The fight for equal school rights continues.

The cost of living in Attawapiskat is quite high, due to the expense of shipping goods to the community. For example, 6 apples and 4 small bottles of juice cost $23.50 (2011-12-01).

It costs $250,000 to build a house in Attawapiskat.[66] The cost of renovating one condemned house is $50,000-$100,000.[67] A majority of the community members have updated their heating needs, while many households still use dry firewood. Firewood in Attawapiskat costs $150 and $200 a cord, and a cord will heat a winter-bound tent for only a week, or at most 10 days. [68]

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