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.

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