Education Minister Cliff Cullen announced his newest advisors to help transform Manitoba’s education system.
Cullen said establishing the Student Advisory Council is one of the priority actions in the Better Education Starts Today: Putting Students First strategy, released in March.
"Council members will provide insights and advice on issues and topics that are current and emerging for Manitoba kindergarten to Grade 12 students."
The province received close to 200 applications and chose 29 students aged 14 to 18 from all over the province with diverse interests, identities, and backgrounds.
One of the 29 students is Lenea Perrin,14, a Cree student who will be going into Grade 9 at Steinbach Regional Secondary School. Perrin is one of three students chosen from the region. Joshua Nienhuis, a Grade 11 student from Springfield Collegiate Institute and Katherine Dueck, a Grade 12 student from Green Valley School were also named to the council.
Perrin moved to Steinbach with her family two years ago and even though the pandemic kept her inside most of the time, it didn’t stop her drive.
Perrin has always been a go-getter and an academic, being the first girl and Grade 5 student to win her K-8, school-wide annual Jeopardy game, completing Young Worker Readiness Certificate, Babysitting, and Hunter Safety courses, and plans to get her lifeguard level in the summer.
"I really like to challenge myself in school and achieve new things," said Perrin.
When her grandmother, a retired teacher, asked if she wanted to apply, Perrin said yes right away.
"This is a pretty big opportunity and something that can help me in the future," said Perrin.
"It can go on my resume, and it helps me get to know about education in Manitoba."
One of the motivators that encouraged Perrin to apply is to be a voice for her friend, who struggles with a learning disability and said she hasn’t been supported at her school, leaving her struggling and disliking being at school.
Perrin said when her friend’s mother advocated for her, the school would not listen and understand, so she didn’t get the support she needed at school.
As an Indigenous person, Perrin said she believes there needs to be more conversation about Indigenous historic and cultural events like Missing, and Murdered Indigenous Women and residential schools.
When Perrin submitted her application on what she’d bring to the council, she mentioned the financial situations that many families face and can leave children left out on school activities and she wants to make sure their voices are heard more.
"I am really happy that I could be a voice."
Perrin said she is very excited about the opportunity to be able to learn and experience new things.
"It’s going to be interesting to learn from other people’s perspectives and opinions."
As an advisor to the government about the future of Manitoba’s education system, Perrin is also aware of Bill 64 and said she is curious to look into it and learn why some choose not to support it, and some do.
"Every story has two sides," said Perrin.
Lenea’s mother, Jennifer Perrin, said she is definitely a proud mom, saying she always excelled in school and sometimes goes to Lenea herself for math questions.
Perrin said when she’s older she wants to be an accountant or a child psychiatrist, as she loves math and really likes helping people.
Perrin has a busy summer ahead of her as she’s enrolled in the math category of the Duke of Edinburgh Program, which is an international self-development program for individuals 14 -15.
Perrin and her fellow student advisors have their first meeting in August and will serve a 12-month.