Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/3/2012 (2864 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It's not often high school students tell school boards what to do, but that's the job a trio of Grade 12 students face this morning.
And they're looking forward to it.
Three Grade 12 private-school students from St. Mary's Academy will call on trustees with the Manitoba School Boards Association to bring aboriginal studies to Manitoba schools.
They want the school boards association to integrate aboriginal and treaty studies into all grade levels in Manitoba's public school system.
The board is holding its annual general meeting today at the Delta Hotel.
The students planned to use their own experience in private school to nail down their argument.
"Spending an entire year studying aboriginal issues was a life-changer for all of us," said Grade 12 student Claire Aiello.
She was among a class of Grade 11 students last year who were given the Indian Act to study as part of a social studies project. The focus was to look at the federal legislation that since 1876 has governed the lives of the million-plus status Indians who belong to First Nations in Canada.
"We now have a much better understanding of the complex histories of First Nations as well as the hardships they've had to endure," Aiello said.
She and fellow students Erin Teschuk and Janelle Stoketelny hope to lead trustees through the changes they experienced in their perspectives on aboriginal people.
The class, led by teachers David Chell and Michael Saj, was initially cool to the assignment, which only added to the personal impact they saw in their changed attitude.
Last June, the class sat down with the Winnipeg Free Press, marvelling at how the stereotypes they had in mind were wrong.
The students said they couldn't believe what they were learning, and as they probed deeper, hosting panel discussions with aboriginal leaders and analyzing studies on broken treaty promises, they said they discovered a well of empathy for aboriginal people.
One of the aboriginal leaders they invited to their school last year was James Wilson, the Manitoba treaty relations commissioner, who was to introduce the St. Mary's delegation today.
"It is deeply inspiring to have students who studied the impact of the Indian Act on their own, now take a stand and call for changes for all high school students to do what they did: to learn about treaties, to learn about First Nations," Wilson said
Treaty education is part of the treaty commission's mandate in Manitoba and the commission worked with the province to launch a pilot program on treaties in 2011 in grades 5 and 6.
Wilson spends a lot of time telling teachers and trustees of the importance of aboriginal studies.
The fact that private school students are so charged up by their own studies to join the chorus for change is significant, he said.
He expected the trustees will see the young women's passion for the issue with their own eyes.
"It changed their lives, and it could change other students' lives. These students can change our province for the better," Wilson said.