Shannen Koostachin was killed in a car crash in May, 2010, at the age of 15. But although she was young when she passed away, Shannen, a resident of Attawapiskat, accomplished a lot in her short life: she started a national campaign to gain equal funding for aboriginal education. The campaign continued after her death, under the name "Shannen's Dream", and at a vote in Canada's House of Commons this evening, the government supported an NDP motion to put First Nations schools on an equal footing with provincial schools.
Compared with off-reserve pupils, First Nations students receive between $2,000 and $3,000 less per person per year for education. According to an Assembly of First Nations estimate, Ottawa would need to spend about $500 million a year more to bring reserve schools up to provincial standards.
Some observers, including Shannen's friend Chelsea Edwards, who attended to observe the vote, worry that the government may not follow through on the motion with actual funding, given that it is a non-binding resolution. But Charlie Angus, the NDP MP who put forward the motion, says Conservative support for the motion means the governing party is signaling that "they are agreeing to closing the funding gap. They're agreeing to setting up the same methodology for school construction and for class-size ratios, for school resources that exist in provincial jurisdiction".
Recently on the show, we highlighted teenage girls who made a difference. Shannen made the list:
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