Chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation Theresa Spence will be presented the first Aboriginal Heritage Award at the Aboriginal Heritage Festival later this month. Chief Theresa Spence held a six-week hunger strike (Dec. 12, 2012 – Jan. 24, 2013, which attracted worldwide attention to the Idle No More movement.
There will also be a youth award, which posthumously will be presented to Shannen Koostachin, an Attawapiskat teen who used the Internet to launch the “Students Helping Students” campaign to raise money for a new school in her community. She spoke about her experiences in the media, at conferences and on the steps of Parliament Hill. She earned an International Children’s Peace Prize in 2009 at the age of 14.
She died in a car accident a year later while attending a school hundreds of kilometres from her home, but her struggle prompted Shannen’s Dream, a youth-driven movement striving for equitable education funding for First Nations children.
The Festival will span two days – one for students and one for the General Public:
- Friday April 19 ( Education Day), 9:00am – 3:00 pm, $3,00 per student, please book in advance
Saturday April 20 (Public Day), 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, Admission by donation, proceeds to benefit the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (SOADI)
Each day will feature educational displays, presentations, guest artisans, music, dance and traditional foods.
Idle No More PSA
Supporters gather with Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence on Victoria Island on Friday, January 4, 2013. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced that he will meet with First Nations leaders on January 11 and is expected to discuss treaty relationships, aboriginal rights and economic development.
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. www.shannensdream.ca
- Read an article about this event in the Guelph Mercury at http://www.guelphmercury.com/news/local/article/911673–chief-theresa-spence-to-receive-heritage-award-at-annual-fergus-aboriginal-festival;
- Chief Theresa Spence on Wikipedia
- Shannen’s Dream on Wikipedia
- Visit the High School’s promotion page for this event at http://www.ugdsb.on.ca/cwdhs/CWDHS2012/Current_News/Entries/2013/3/27_Aboriginal_Heritage_Festival.html;
- For more events at the museum, visit http://www.wellington.ca/en/discover/events.asp.