First Nations schools in the spotlight
Island native communities to be featured on national radio show
Two Cape Breton First Nations communities will be the focus Sunday of a national radio call-in show as Cross Country Checkup broadcasts live from Membertou.
The experiences of Eskasoni and Membertou will be featured on the CBC Radio show as host Duncan McCue explores the issue of First Nations education.
“What those two communities did in terms of creating their own school board was groundbreaking and others are now watching and want to learn from that success,” said McCue, during an interview with the Cape Breton Post.
Mi’kmaw communities in Nova Scotia first gained authority over education in 1999, which recognized the need for community input when it comes to topics like language, customs, and history.
By 2010-11, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey was recording a high school graduation rate of 75 per cent, nearly double the national average for First Nations communities.
But like many special projects, funding continues to be a core problem and high school graduation rates across First Nations in the country are abysmal, said McCue, who is Anishinaabe, a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario. The lessons learned here in Cape Breton will be detailed by some of the show’s guest including Darren Googoo, who as chair of the Cape BretonVictoria Regional School Board is the first Mi’kmaq to hold such a position in the province.
A resident of Membertou, Googoo was educated in both the Mi’kmaq Kina’matnewey system and the Cape BretonVictoria board.
Senator Dan Christmas, former senior advisor to Membertou band, is also scheduled to be on hand along with Dawn Stevens, principal of the Eskasoni Elementary and Middle School. McCue said the show will also hear from students.
McCue said native education funding has been a political football for decades and it has not received much national attention.
He said it is important that native children have role models in their communities, from those they see in the classroom to others throughout the community.
While education in one factor in shaping any child’s life, community economic success also sends an encouraging message for residents to be a part of that success.
McCue said the economic success shown by Membertou has not only served to inspire its residents but other First Nations communities across the country.
He said when native students know it is possible for them to find a job in their own community after high school or university, it can be guiding factor to staying in school and pursuing educational goals.
The show will be broadcast live from the school in Membertou, Maupeltuewey Kina’matno’kuomuinvescome, located on Tupsi Drive.
Doors open at 4 p.m. and the show hits the airwaves at 5 p.m.
CBC Radio’s Cross Country Checkup will broadcast Sunday from Membertou as host Duncan McCue focuses on First Nation education. McCue hopes the discussion will help raise the profile of the issue.