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Leader's concerns.

Open letter to all chiefs and councils in Saskatchewan:

Knowledge. This one word embodies what all individuals strive for in life. The knowledge to know whom one is, where one comes from and what one believes in. At this moment in time, knowledge must be looked at in terms of education and the ability to know where one stands in life.

This is an open letter to the chiefs and councils in Saskatchewan to use their knowledge and their leadership abilities in order to take a stand on an important issue. This issue directly relates to the situation at the First Nations University of Canada and the assurance of a high quality of education. For too long, many peoples, both First Nations and non-First Nations, have waited for our leadership to step up to the spotlight and voice their concern over the present situation at FNUC.

As an Anishinabe female, youth, leader but most importantly a student, I press to ask the question: "Why, as leaders and role models, you have done nothing to assure our quality of education be taken seriously?"

Too many times, we as youth and students have heard the phrase that "education is our new buffalo" and "to survive in the white man's world, you need an education." We have taken that initiative in our lives to reach for the higher learning in post-secondary institutions. Many of us have had a lifelong dream to attend FNUC to obtain credentials in an Aboriginal-derived learning environment. However, with the present situation, slowly but surely our dreams are being shattered, as is our education. What is happening now is that our education, just as the buffalo, is dying. Our very own means to survive is suffering as we watch our leaders do to us what the white man has done for decades and centuries to First Nations peoples. A new form of colonialization is emerging: Neo-colonialization where the oppressed become the oppressors. When First Nations peoples were constantly being oppressed through government policies, such as the residential schools, permit system and reserves, very few could stand up.

In this new era, we as First Nations peoples have a voice and the knowledge to assert our injustices without fear of reprisal. We are a free people. The very university that enabled me to assert my rights as a First Nation person in Saskatchewan is now trying to prevent me from being the strong, outspoken leader I was taught to take pride in. The knowledge, education and the ways in which we were taught is being put to the sidelines as the emotions of fear and intimidation overwhelm numerous peoples.

Speaking on behalf of the students who are concerned about their education and myself, I have decided to use the teaching of bravery to stand up for what I believe in. I believe in the right to be able to ask questions. I believe that our leadership is capable of making positive social changes, and I also believe that there are no excuses for letting our people down.

The state of affairs at FNUC is not improving in my eyes; rather it is at a standstill. No one seems to care, nor do they want to improve the situation. I ask: "Where are our leaders?" As leaders, you are responsible for our people, our rights and the assurance that our future generation and those unborn have a secure life as first peoples in North America. Why aren't you, as role models, thinking about this?

Right now, people are afraid or intimidated or lack the confidence to speak. I am not. A true leader will stand up, even if it's alone, for what he or she believes is wrong. It is your turn to do this. Instead of talk, action must occur. Save our institution, restore hope in our people and live up to your speech about seeking education. Do not be hypocritical. All people are watching for you to do your job. Our people and our communities vote you in. Your position is based on a collective group, not an individual agenda.

As I write this, my heart and spirit speak because I have confidence that you will take action and demand that our education is the highest of its caliber and our institution, FNUC, can re-establish its reputation and begin, once again, as a place of pride without interference.

Respectfully yours,

Danna Henderson

Pasqua First Nation
COPYRIGHT 2006 Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta (AMMSA)
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Title Annotation:rants and raves
Author:Henderson, Danna
Publication:Windspeaker
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:736
Previous Article:Start to heal.
Next Article:What's happening.
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