On my campus there is a Blue Chair Campaign.
This campaign I fully support and appreciate.
Unfortunately, because of this campaign I am reminded of the issues that Aboriginals face regarding education (which the campaign strives to bring attention to as mentioned on their site).
One of the misconceptions that people have about Aboriginals and education is that “we get everything for free.” No. It’s not like that. For my reservation, it works like a scholarship, and we can only take education in a forward fashion (meaning I can’t go to university and then decide to go to college). Some reservations, don’t even receive adequate funding to help with post-secondary pursuits. So, no, education is not free.
This also reminds me of the fact that many other young Aboriginals do not even have access to high school education IN CANADA! At my high school every year, there were a group of Aboriginal students that were “shipped down” from their reserve to attend high school in a “urbanized centre.” My hometown isn’t all that big, but to go from a town of only a few hundred, surrounded by your family since birth and then “shipped” to another region by a train and/or a plane ride away can be quite traumatizing (culture shock) for some. This is what goes on in Canada for Aboriginal students at the high-school level. They don’t even have access to high school education in their community. They have to live with a strange family in a strange community for four years, and some only for one year because they never return after the first. So, no, Aboriginals don’t get education for free.
This also reminds me of the stories I would hear when I was younger about northern community schools lacking heating and water systems. Some of these schools had to be shut down for a periods of time because of the lack of safety for students in the community (gas leaks, bad/leaky roof tops, no heat). This makes me sad when I think about this. Those children experienced elementary education with enough interruptions to cause delays in learning/education. So, no, Aboriginals don’t get everything for free.
I hope that when people see this blue chair campaign that it is not just post-secondary education that can’t be accessed in Canada. For some it was high school. For others it was a warm elementary school.