Words from Shawn Atleo

Collected quotations from Shawn Atleo, who was today re-elected for a second term as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations in Canada:

On education:

First Nations youth are the youngest and fastest-growing segment of our population. Their share of the labour force will triple over the next 20 years.  First Nations youth who complete high school are twice as likely to be employed, and those who get university degrees triple their earning potential.  Increasing their graduation rates to match those of other Canadians [40 per cent of First Nations youth graduate from high school, compared to 80 per cent of non-First-Nations youth] would inject an additional $71 billion into Canada’s economy over the next 10 years.  This would help eliminate the employment gap, adding another $160 billion to the economy over a 10-year period.

Investing in First Nations is a long-term, sustainable stimulus plan for Canada’s economy.  And yet our learners languish.  First Nations children receive $2,000 less per year than non-aboriginal students.  Schools lack libraries, computers, even heat and drinking water.  Some of our communities lack permanent schools. Simple fairness dictates that we address this intolerable inequity.

When we open a door to a school, we close a door to a jail cell.

On resource development: 

First Nations can and must have a say in designing more sustainable resource development within our country and in our territories. . . . Together, we must plan what a sustainable future looks like.

On awareness and working together:  

Learning is all about . . . listening for understanding [and for] what each each others’ perspectives are.  Somehow we [in Canada] strayed, and it’s time to return to that sentiment.

The consciousness of [First Nations’] history is starting to become well known.  There’s a real sense of resilience.  We have come through a most unbelievably challenging time where most of Canada has not understood.  Now we are welcoming [Canadians] into this conversation.

Let us turn the page to a new chapter, together.

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