THUNDER BAY - Students at Edgewater Park Public School believe reconciliation can be achieved within their lifetime.
The question was posed to students after Max FineDay, executive director of Canadian Roots Exchange, spoke to Grade 7 and Grade 8 students about the subject, and the role young people can play on Wednesday.
FineDay is a 28-year-old from Sweetgrass First Nation in Saskatchewan, who travels coast to coast to deliver reconciliation programming to Indigenous and non-Indigenous students across the country.
On Wednesday, he made a stop in Thunder Bay.
“I wasn’t taught a lot about my own people when I was going through public school in Saskatchewan. I think it’s opportunities like these… opportunities to have discussions about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that are crucial for students to have,” he said.
FineDay said when he arrived in Thunder Bay, he took the time to drive around the city. He told students that the beauty of the city resemble many other places in Canada, similar to how all humans are created the same.
“I think every student should be leaving public education in this country knowing whose territory they’re living on, the history of how this country was created, and knowing what they can do to help advance reconciliation for all of us,” FineDay said.
FineDay told students they hold the power to make significant change when it comes to Indigenous relations in Canada. He said students don’t come to the discussion with prejudices and preconceptions that some adults may hold.
“A lot of (parents and grandparents) tell me they’ve learned something from their kid. I think that’s a powerful lesson for the country.”
At the end of the discussion, the majority of students said they believed reconciliation could be achieved in their lifetime after FineDay asked for a show of hands.
“I was really happy that I saw that many hands,” said Alessa MacNeil, a Grade 7 student who raised her hand when asked if reconciliation could be achieved.
“I think it’s important because we can help change how people are treated,” said Eirean Bois, also in Grade 7.
“I know lots of children my age feel really strongly about how people are treated with racism and stuff like that. So I think we can do it, we just need to find the right people.”