Drake Trudeau (front row, second from right), a Grade 6 student at Assiginack Public School, was honoured by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at the Rideau Hall in Ottawa earlier this week.
OTTAWA—Assiginack Public School student Drake Trudeau was honoured by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) at the Rideau Hall, in Ottawa, this past Tuesday.
The NCTR announced Tuesday that the Grade 6 student was selected and honoured as one of 10 recipients of awards through the Imagine a Canada competition. They were honoured at a ceremony at Governor General David Johnston’s residence at Rideau Hall, where their submissions were on display.
“The entries we received were so diverse, but they all shared a deep desire to see a better future for Canada,” said Ry Moran, director of the NCTR, in a release. “On behalf of the NCTR, it is with great pleasure that we honour these young people from across the country, and their vision for a reconciled country. Their compassion and empathy should give us all hope for a much brighter tomorrow.”
Organized by the NCTR, Imagine a Canada is a national art and essay competition that asks young people to share their thoughts on what the future of Canada will look like through the lens of reconciliation. The competition is open to Grades 1 to 12 as well as to undergraduate students at the post-secondary levels. Participants may submit works of art, poetry, film, video or traditional essays in this competition.
In his essay Mr. Trudeau wrote, “Mskoomnehs diznakaaz, Drake zhaaganashi disnikaaz. Chechock Dodem, Odawa Endow, Mnidoo Mnissing Doojiba, Wiikwemkoong endaaying.”
“Boozhoo,” wrote Mr. Trudeau. “My Nookmis (grandmother) went to residential school in Spanish, Ontario when she was a little girl. You see, her family life at home wasn’t great, so the family thought it was best to let my Nookmis and her sisters go away to school. My Nookmis is smart and really busy, always going to meetings and working at being Anishinabe.”
Mr. Trudeau explained, “I go to school at Assiginack Public School in the neighbouring community off the reserve, even though there is a school on my reserve. My parents tell me that the services are not the same, because there aren’t enough helpers in the classroom, and my parents wanted to make sure I get help. When I first went to school at Assiginack, there were many things I found to be different.”
“There is a district wide speech competition that I never had to participate in before,” continued Mr. Trudeau. “There was music and a choir. I got to go on trips to see plays, ski trips, and half of our school got a week at Tim Horton’s camp. So far, the kids on my reserve aren’t getting the same chance to experience those things.”
“At Assiginack Public School, we can use the classroom iPads, chrome books and laptops, and we complete a lot of assignments through a classroom link through the internet for learning,” wrote Mr. Trudeau. “The kids on my reserve won’t be able to compete with the rest of the kids because there isn’t enough money to buy iPads for every class to use on the reserve.”
“On some days, the kids on my reserve have different (professional development) days than the school district. My parents tell me it’s because the reserve school is a private board,” wrote Mr. Trudeau.
Mr. Trudeau wrote, “Imagine if not just the off reserve kids got iPads for learning, and got to learn using modern technology like the rest of us?”
“Imagine if there was enough help in the classroom with teacher’s aides to help students keep up?”
Imagine if there was no off-reserve and on reserve differences?” posed Mr. Trudeau. “My Nookmis is busy using her language and culture because the residential schools wouldn’t let her use Anishnabemowin. Imagine if I knew more Anishnabemowin than just my name and where I live. Imagine if they understood what I said in the beginning.”
“Imagine a Canada where we all understand each other? It would be more beautiful. Imagine,” added Mr. Trudeau.