I was brought to tears many times during Progress Summit (#prgrs15), but one of the panels that affected me the most was the panel on Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The panel was made up of Marie Wilson, one of three commissioners for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; Perry Bellegarde, the current National Chief of the AFN, and Wab Kinew, who works at the University of Winnipeg and was heavily involved in the #IdleNoMore movement.

Indigenous youth make up a huge percentage of our population. They are a population that we will rely on heavily in the future. They are and will be very important to this country and we are losing them in massive numbers. Many are committing suicide – communities are in crisis.

And many of them are dropping out of school. Too many.

When I asked a question about how we can give these young people hope Perry Bellegarde touched on something that Stephen Kakfwi, the former Premier of the NWT, also brought up in his panel.

The investment in education for indigenous kids, in their communities is so much less than in the rest of the country. They are treated as so much less. If we are not demonstrating to them that education is important by giving them the decent infrastructure and supplies then why should they consider education important for them?

If we actually want them to succeed we need to show them that by investing in them.

It make so much sense, it’s so simple. And yet we’re so far away.

Investing in education is the first step. Education is the first step to solving poverty.

The most powerful statement, for me, came from Stephen Kakfwi, who said simply: “Do something, we’re getting desperate.”

(On a further note, Kakfwi also talked about Canadians for a New Partnership, which is worth checking out).

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