By Jessy Bains and Helen Surgenor
Dozens of concerned aboriginal parents, students, and supporters arrived on the doorstep of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s Toronto office to protest a lack of school supplies Thursday.
Members of Six Nations voiced their anger over photocopiers on the verge of repossession and classes that were being taught using copies of a single textbook.
“I called every elementary school in Grand Erie District,” said Cheyenne Williams, a mother of two elementary-aged children.
“Every single one of them—other than the Six Nations schools that sit in Grand Erie District—they all got their school supplies in May and June. So where are ours?”
Some parents said they were paying upwards of $1,000 on supplies for their children.
“We live under the poverty line,” Williams said.
“Why are we paying for our kids’ pencils and papers and textbooks?”
Protestors also expressed concerns that the federal government is additionally failing to fully fund programs focused on teaching aboriginal languages.
“I shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket for my son to learn his language,” said Williams.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada did not address the crowd, but did issue a statement indicating that outstanding school supplies will be delivered as soon as possible.
According to the statement, “all five principals have confirmed that the schools have the supplies required to deliver the curriculum and classroom instruction is continuing.”
Cheyenne Williams speaks about the conditions at Six Nations schools: