Skip to content

Montreal chapter to hold public forum on Indigenous rights

The Council of Canadians Montreal chapter will be hosting a public forum with Suzanne Simatos, an educator and spiritual animator with the Lester B. Pearson School Board in Pointe Claire, Quebec.

Simatos has connected with the Kawawachikamach First Nation, which is located in northern Quebec near the Labrador border. The majority of Kawawachikamach residents are members of the Naskapi Nation and Naskapi is their principal language. Simatos has organized programs and curriculum to help her Grade 3-11 students understand more about the human rights violations First Nations children experienced when they attended residential schools. Simatos says, “Many First Nations children, often victims of physical and even sexual abuse, were separated from their families, their communities and forced to abandon their culture, language and identity.”

In Dec. 2013, the Naskapi News reported, “To break several pre-existing stereotypes surrounding First Nations peoples, John Rennie High School [in Pointe Claire] is establishing a partnership with Jimmy Sandy Memorial School of the Naskapi/Iyiyiw First Nations reserve. John Rennie is set to form a pen-pal like exchange program whereby approximately 200 students will send letters to the First Nations school, located in Kawawachikamak… …Following the Truth and Reconciliation Commission gatherings last year in Montreal, several First Nations persons were invited to John Rennie to educate students about aboriginal life.” Soon after this, the pen-pal idea came about.

At the Montreal chapter event, Simatos will speak about human rights and racism, the promised inquiry on murdered and missing Indigenous women, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Council of Canadians has endorsed all 93 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. At our annual conference in Windsor in Oct. 2015, a motion was passed endorsing the recommendation that states, “We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, [to] make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.”

The public forum takes place on Feb. 3 at Concordia University.

Further reading
Council of Canadians welcomes Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations (June 9, 2015)
Standing in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples (Autumn 2014)