Thunder Bay

Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School students make case for student residence in Ottawa

A group of students from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay, Ont. hope their recent visit to Ottawa will help to make their dream of a student residence in the city, a reality.
Students and staff from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School visited Ottawa last week, where they met with politicians and senators, and made their case for federal support to build a new school and student living centre for First Nations students in Thunder Bay, Ont. (Greg Chomut)

A group of students from Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School in Thunder Bay, Ont., hope their recent visit to Ottawa will help to make their dream of a student residence in the city, a reality.

Seven students recently returned from the nation's capital, where they met with politicians and senators to make their case for a student living centre for teens who leave their homes and families in First Nations communities to study in Thunder Bay. 

It would be safer and easier for DFC students to live together, said 18-year-old Aleena Crow, from Sandy Lake First Nation, instead of in separate boarding homes scattered across different neighbourhoods.

"Students are living all around the city. Some of them are far from the school, they have to take, like, two different buses. They have to get up really early, just to be on time for school," she said. 

The school itself is also in need of repairs, Crow said, adding that students are also asking the federal government for help to build a new school, along with a residence. 

Letters delivered

"It's about all kinds of things," said teacher Greg Chomut, who accompanied the students on the trip. "Having a place for them to stay that feels like their own, a safe place, being able to ensure their safety better when they're in the city." .

A lot led up to the visit to Ottawa, Chomut said, including encouragement from Senator Kim Pate.

On a recent visit to DFC, Pate encouraged students to write to Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott about the need for improvements at the school, said Chomut.

The students decided they would like to deliver the letters themselves. 

While they were unable to meet with Philpott, or the Prime Minister, in person, they did meet with Senator Pate and Senator Marilou McPhedran, as well as with MPs Patty Hajdu and Don Rusnak, he said. 

"We've been really well received here, and I think the ball's kind of rolling in the right direction," said Chomut. 

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