Thursday June 21, Judy Klassen spoke to honour the high school graduates in Kewatinook. Her comments are below.
Ms. Judy Klassen (Kewatinook): I would like to take this time to congratulate my Kewatinook 2018 graduates–indeed, to every graduate across our province.
Indigenous graduation rates are at a deplorable 49.3 per cent rate, and yet my young adults, teachers, administrators in Kewatinook are doing everything possible to raise that number.
All these diplomas are hard-earned. Most kids have to leave their First Nation to attain their diploma because there simply is no high school in their community. I know how much it hurts to be forced to leave for school; I had to do it, facing insurmountable loneliness, unfamiliar landscapes, concrete jungles and a different culture that you have to adapt to and the unjust racism that exists in that supposed civilized world you now live in.
There are many challenges within our own communities as well: cramped homes, sleeping in shifts, no food, school closures due to no heat from running out of fuel or Manitoba Hydro power outages, no fuel to run buses, sewer and water issues. The trials are endless.
But my amazing students persevere. They diligently come to school when it is open and hold their own. Our teachers strive to ensure that the childhood love of being in school is maintained through every grade, all the way to the day they have to leave for high school.
In St. Theresa Point our high school graduates walk down the hallways of both the early and middle years school with all the young students lining the hallways. This is done to encourage and inspire our young ones to become a graduate themselves one day. It is such a beautiful sight to see, how proud the grads are and how proud the kids are to be–to see their older brother or sister or cousin in a cap and gown.
To all my Kewatinook grads, a heartfelt thank you. Thank you for being you. And I am looking, on a side–as a side note, for a constituency assistant, so I urge any one of them to become involved in politics, to get in touch with my office.