In a year-end interview with James Bradshaw, Governor-General David Johnston agreed with my opinion that education models on most Canadian First Nations reserves are not working. He suggests that initiatives in British Columbia which develop curriculums that fit the language and employment needs of the reservation such as logging, mining, and fishing are good ideas which should be expanded. This is fine as far as it goes, but without first having the security of adequate family housing, aboriginal kids have little chance of succeeding in these other areas.

Each reserve must make a priority of educating individuals in the basic construction trades to build and maintain new and existing housing on their reserves which will provide a safe learning environment for children without the stress and dysfunction that occurs with housing debacles like Attawapiskat. Any kid growing up in crowded, unsanitary, unsafe conditions, with no privacy or confidence about having a decent roof over their heads, doesn’t stand a chance to succeed. 

First Nations councils and government beaurocrats must put First Things First.