Thanks to constituency Youth Council Member Kate Brown of Napanee for writing this meeting blog!
Mike Bossio’s Youth Council Meets with Dr. Dan Longboat and Ontario First Nation Young People’s Council Representative to Discuss Indigenous Issues
Mike Bossio and members of his Youth Constituency Council for Hastings – Lennox & Addington met with Dr. Dan Longboat and his student, Juliana Lesage-Corbiere at the First Nations Technical Institute on March 6 to discuss Indigenous issues in Canada.
Special attention was given to the topics of Indigenous youth and suicide, education, mental health and addictions. Dr. Longboat, the Director of the Indigenous Environmental Studies Department at Trent University was able to provide his professional insight into these topics, while Ms. Lesage-Corbiere, as a member of Ontario First Nation Youth Peoples Council, was able to offer her unique understanding of issues faced by Indigenous youth.
The concern most readily expressed by the speakers was that of education and the high-levels of Indigenous students dropping out of school. Julianna related to the group how many Indigenous youths must leave their homes and communities to attend primary and highschool in the nearest town. However, these same youth often struggle to see themselves in their own education due to lack of Indigenous language and culture based education. This along with racism and lack of funding contributes to the high drop-out rate of Indigenous students in schools across Canada.
So, what can be done?
“Greater recognition (from the government and education system) of the value of Indigenous knowledge, and creating meaningful opportunities for the revitalization of language and culture for Indigenous nations.” says Dan Longboat.
There are four aspects under the umbrella of Indigenous knowledge that would benefit every student in the current Canadian school system. These are mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual intelligence. The values and principles imbedded in each of these categories will, “raise the bar for what it means to be really human”. This includes becoming more aware of who we are and how to engage respectfully with ourselves, other people, and our environment.
Youth Council member Leah Oster summarizes the meeting as, “My biggest takeaway was definitely that we don’t just need to incorporate Indigenous history into our education system, we also need to utilize the universal values and learning strategies of Indigenous culture. This will make school a more applicable, representative, and positive learning experience for all Canadians”.The discussion around Indigenous issues in the local community and nationwide is only just beginning. There is still much to be done in terms of reconciliation, and incorporating Indigenous knowledge and culture into the general education system is a good way to start.
The Youth Council was honoured to meet with Dr. Longboat, Ms. Lesage-Corbiere and members of the First Nation Technical Institute and hear their insights into the topic. They hope to continue the conversation of Indigenous issues within their schools and community and advocate for the unheard voices.