Charlottetown students write Trudeau about issues in First Nations communities

1 / 6
Charlottetown students write Trudeau about issues in First Nations communities

The Prime Minister's Office will be receiving 54 letters from Grade 10 students at Colonel Gray Senior High School in Charlottetown.

Gary Connelly said he taught his two French immersion history classes about the past and present issues facing First Nations communities across the country, such as residential schools, high suicide rates, and missing women. 

Students then chose a topic they wanted to write the Prime Minister about.

'We are the immigrants to their land'

Saad Malik wrote about suicide among children and other members of the community. He said it was upsetting to learn about.

"We need to focus more on them because saving lives is the number one priority," he said.

"We are the immigrants to their land and we're not providing them with their own resources. So it's kind of unfair, it's like we took something away from them and we're not being fair back."

'It really does need to be resolved'

Lauren Harper wrote about lack of access to clean drinking water. She said it was surprising to learn that some communities weren't able to drink the water from their sink.

"Canada has a lot of the world's population of fresh water so to hear that these families weren't being treated fairly with their water supply, which is kind of a given in Canada, it was very surprising."

Harper said at first she didn't understand the importance of the issues, but that changed.

"Once we got into the research of the topic and started writing our letters I realized that it is a really big problem and it really does need to be resolved."

'Makes us feel like we're actually proud'

Dion Bernard, a Mi'kmaq student at UPEI and Julie Pellissier-Lush with the Mi'kmaq Family Resource Centre visited the students. They performed an interactive song and got the class on their feet and dancing.

"I didn't think we could actually get a round dance happening in the library," Bernard laughed. "So that's pretty good. I was actually proud that some of them got to sing the songs considering how shy the average high school student would be."

Bernard said it is important for this, and future, generations to voice their concerns.

"It makes us feel like we're actually proud, like we're proud of our own culture because there was a time where we felt like we were ridiculed and judged for being so called traditionalists. Because there were some times where I was actually getting teased by my own people that being part of my culture, that being part of my culture, was wrong."

The students also made copies of their letters for Charlottetown MP Sean Casey and Perry Bellegarde, chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Connelly said he hopes the Prime Minister's Office will respond to the students.

- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | These 8 dogs need a home — but not just any home

- MORE P.E.I. NEWS | P.E.I. businesses encouraged to expand experiential tourism offerings