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We Day makes the case that Indigenous issues should matter to the youngest Canadians.
The Supreme Court's ruling in the Tsilhqot'in Nation v. British Columbia case on Aboriginal rights and title exploded in the news last month. Whatever your opinion of the case, it's clear that this is not just about territory: it's also about Canada's evolving constitution -- a common law document whose roots stretch back to the Magna Carta.
When Elijah Harper passed away on May 17, 2013 I felt as though an arrow had pierced my heart. The man who inspired me to become what I am today was dead. In my childhood, there was only one Elijah Harper. Today, because he inspired an entire generation of First Nations youth, there are thousands of us.
Joshua Houle received a sentence of eight years for the stabbing and dismembering of Misty Ward over a year ago. The crime was a horrible act of violence in which Crown Prosecutor Robert Beck pointed out Houle warned Misty Ward "he had a history of waking up violently if he was startled awake." Misty Ward did nothing wrong but to merely attempt to arouse a friend from a deep slumber. It was in that one simple act her life was taken within the blink of an eye.
A study made last summer by Nanos Research and the Institute for Research on Public Policy ranks aboriginal issues as the least important concern among Canadians. I was recently delayed at Union Station for four hours due to an Idle No More blockade. An attendant announced in a surly tone that the train had been stopped due to "une manifestation d'Indiens." Contrary to news reports, my fellow passengers weren't "taking it in stride." Many groaned but didn't speak; I wrote down some of the comments others shared about "the lazy Indians."
It's called the Flotilla for Friendship and for 12 years it's succeeded in building bonds between two very disparate groups: police and aboriginal youth. Distrust of police is both common and deep-rooted among many in Canadian aboriginal communities. In the flotilla, the 21 police officers and 47 aboriginal youth pile into their canoes and bond on the water, resulting in a change for the better.
Universities are often called ivory towers -- elite institutions open only to those who can afford the cost. When Lloyd Axworthy took over as President of the University of Winnipeg in 2004, he resolved to throw open the tower doors to disadvantaged families in the surrounding communities, many of them aboriginal. He developed the Opportunity Fund, which turns post-secondary education from pipe dream to real possibility for aboriginal and low income students.
After passing out from a cocktail of pills, Sally awoke to find a friend dead beside her. She knew she had to change. She was only 15. Illiteracy is a common thread in the stories of troubled Aboriginal youth like Sally. Experts want to change the way Canada thinks about youth delinquency. The solution, they say, starts with reading and writing.