Governor General David Johnston Skypes with aboriginal students
Johnston fields range of questions from fracking to post-secondary education
Aboriginal high school students from across Atlantic Canada had a chance Monday to pose questions to Canada`s Governor General, David Johnston.
They wanted to hear his thoughts on everything from his role as an honourary witness at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, to fracking and the environment.
The 60 students, aged between 15 and 18, were gathered at Cape Breton University for a conference on business mentorship for indigenous youth. The mentorship program began at CBU five years ago with 30 students. It has since expanded across the country to 250 students in five regions.
Johnson appeared at the conference via Skype for about an hour.
Jarrett Martin Noel, a Grade 11 student at Dalhousie Regional High School in New Brunswick, asked the Govenor General: "Understanding that fracking is harming the environment First Nations try so hard to protect, how can we balance the need for economic development and the need to protect the environment?"
One of Johnston's suggestions was to "try and operate without chemicals. Operate with water and with CO2."
Nichelle Googoo from Eskasoni asked Johnston: "How important is post-secondary education to the success of First Nations communities?"
He replied that it's important, not just for economic success but also for healthy communities and equality of opportunity.
Googoo said she had hoped for more.
"Honestly, I was kind of disappointed," she says. "He was like, sure that's important, but I was looking for a more relevant answer. Like students on the reserve schools are not being as funded as students in off-reserve schools."
The students say they were excited to have an opportunity to raise these issues with the Govenor General. For his part, Johnston commended the mentorship program and those participating.
"We need new ways to help people to learn to put theory and practice together," he said.