Garden Hill teens prepare for high school in Winnipeg
Group leaving remote Manitoba First Nation to attend school in city
Seven teenagers from the Garden Hill First Nation are leaving their remote community and travelling hundreds of kilometres to attend high school in Winnipeg.
The seven boys from Garden Hill, located 475 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, are moving to the capital city to pursue their secondary school studies.
While members of the group say they're nervous about being far from home for such a long period of time, they are thankful for the chance to study in the city.
"I think it's great having the opportunity to be different than others," Gavin Knott, one of the teens, told CBC News before the group left.
The boys are part of a program called Mino Bimaadiziwin — meaning "the good life" in Ojibway — in which they all live a clean lifestyle with no drugs or alcohol.
Members of the program attend school regularly, volunteer in the community and stay physically active.
Elizabeth Wood said it was an easy choice to send her son, Gerald, away to school.
"When I was growing up, I didn't really have an education," she said.
Want to graduate
The boys want to graduate from high school — something that not all youth in Garden Hill have done.
Last year, 32 students graduated from Grade 12 at the school in Garden Hill. That's about one-third of the number of students who registered there at the beginnning of the year.
Former high school principal Cathy Monias says the number of graduates has gone up since a mature students program started five years ago. Before that, the average number of grads was 12.
Monias said one problem is that many parents in the community don't make their children attend school.
"A lot of it has to do with lifestyle. For a child to come to school and to stay interested in school, they need sleep," she said.
"If the parents are not home or it's not supported — like, discipline is not enforced — then it does become a problem."
Some children on the First Nation were seen staying up all night. One young boy told a CBC News crew that his usual bedtime was 6 a.m.
But the teens who are going to Winnipeg say they know class attendance will be mandatory.
They're moving into a house in St. Vital — with a "house parent" supervising them around the clock — and going to Tec Voc High School, where they'll have access to a wide range of career options.
The boys' expenses are being covered by the Garden Hill First Nation's education fund.