Shannen’s Dream an inspiration for Attawapiskat valedictorian visiting Ottawa

(Nadine Tookate, left, with Charlie Angus from recent photo posted on Facebook.)

APTN National News
OTTAWA – Nadine Tookate is in Ottawa for the first time to say Shannen Koostachin was right.

Right that children from her community of Attawapiskat deserved a proper school.

Right that when given the opportunity they’d succeed.

Tookate is valedictorian of the first graduating class of Attawpiskat’s new elementary school that opened in 2014.

It wasn’t too long ago Koostachin came to Ottawa herself to tell politicians of the problems plaguing her community. She died in in a car collision in 2010 and never got to see her dream become reality.

But her spirit has lived on under Shannen’s Dream, which, for Tookate, is an inspiration.

“It’s just for hope. It’s really powerful stuff,” said the 14-year-old. “I grew up in the portables and never thought I’d have a real school until Shannen’s Dream came along.”

The old school closed in 2000 due to diesel fuel contamination.

Kids were shuffled around in portable schools, sometimes in frigid temperatures in the northern Ontario community that is only accessible by air or by ice road in the winter.

Tookate is speaking at the launch of Charlie Angus’s new book Children of the Broken Treaty Tuesday evening Ottawa.

APTN spoke to her while she was out and about town with her aunt.

“I want to them what Shannen’s Dream meant to me and some personal stuff,” she said.

Koostachin was the inspiration of the book that examines  her dream and the poor education system on First Nation communities.

Angus has said Tookate is a future prime minister.

“(She) was one of the ‘forgotten children’ of Attawapiskat,” he recently posted on Facebook. “She is now a proud young leader.”

She’s not alone.

Her friend Janelle Nakogee Wheesk is speaking at the book launch, too. She wasn’t available to speak to APTN.

Both want to see Indigneous youth have better access to education, said Tookate.

“I want to keep fighting for children’s rights. I just want to keep on helping,” she said.

As for this fall, she intends to go to high school and then probably become a nurse when she grows up.

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