Virtual forums to discuss safety of First Nation students in urban centres

·2 min read

Nishnawbe Aski Nation is hosting three virtual forums to discuss issues and challenges that First Nation students are facing in urban centres.

The first virtual meeting will be held for students in Sioux Lookout on Tuesday, Feb. 16.

For Thunder Bay, the event will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 23. A Timmins meeting is slated for Tuesday, March 2.

All meetings are scheduled to last from 10-11 a.m.

NAN Deputy Grand Chief Derek Fox said many First Nation students from NAN communities encounter dangerous situations and racism when they move to study in urban centres.

“Overall, students are concerned and worried when they enter these cities to go to school. And sometimes they’re faced with a situation like racism,” Fox said. “It’s something I grew up with in the city of Thunder Bay when someone approaches you and says something to you because of the colour of your skin or because you’re First Nation.”

Fox said he receives messages from students and parents asking to do something. He said NAN does its best to make sure students know they’re not alone and that they have the support when they move from their home communities to urban centres.

“A lot of responsibility for the students falls on tribal councils when it comes to supporting students. At the NAN level, we’re overseeing tribal councils on a broader scale,” Fox said.

Many students have stayed in their home communities because of the ongoing pandemic. The upcoming forums will give students, educators and support workers a chance to voice their opinions, share their thoughts and ideas and discuss how to ensure students receive the support that they need when they move to the cities, Fox said.

“It doesn’t need to be a case of something bad has happened. It’s just to ensure that they can reach their goals whether (it’s) getting a diploma, a degree. I think that’s the focus of these meetings,” said the deputy grand chief.

NAN has hosted events on community safety before and plans to continue doing it in the future, Fox said.

To register, email schng@nan.ca.

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com