Wednesday, October 21st, 2009
For Immediate Media Release:
OSSTF to celebrate “Student Voices for Attawapiskat” at Awards Presentation
On Wednesday, October 28th, students from six Thames Valley secondary schools will be honoured by the District 11 OSSTF Human Rights, Status of Women and Political Action Committees for their winning entries in the Student Voices for Attawapiskat Creative Arts Contest. A reception will begin at 4 p.m. at the D.11 Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation Office at 680 Industrial Road, London, Ontario. The Awards Presentation will take place at 4:30 with parents, teachers and TVDSB dignitaries on hand. The students will also receive honours from London-Fanshawe MP (and OSSTF member) Irene Mathyssen for their participation in the “Students Helping Students Campaign”. Student posters and letters submitted to the contest will also be on display before they are delivered to the federal government.
In November, the two winning students and their teacher will travel to Ottawa to act as “Human Rights Ambassadors.” They will visit the House of Commons and deliver all of the student letters and posters in person to our federal leaders. The letters and posters send a powerful collective message: “Education is a fundamental Human Right. The children of Attawapiskat deserve a new school.”
Thames Valley District 11 OSSTF first became involved in this Human Rights issue last November when they sponsored a bus for forty Thames Valley secondary students and seven teachers to attend the Attawapiskat Human Rights Forum in Toronto. Our students became part of the largest student led children’s rights conference in Canadian history, as they joined in the fight for a new school for the children of Attawapiskat, a remote First Nations community on James Bay. The children of this community have been without a school since it was condemned in 2000, due to toxic contamination from a diesel fuel spill that occurred twenty years ago. The condemned school building was demolished earlier this year, exposing the four hundred children in nearby portables to dangerous chemicals. The noxious fumes meant the students had to be removed for the portables last spring. Despite repeated urgent appeals, the government has no plans to build a new school.
On May 22nd 2009, the fight for a school for the “forgotten children” of Attawapiskat came to London. At the invitation of OSSTF, Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus was the special guest at a Student Forum at Beal Secondary School. Students converged at Beal to hear first hand of the appalling conditions that continue to exist for these First Nations students. Angus asserted that, “Education is a fundamental Human Right and this situation is a violation on the UN convention on the Rights of a Child.”
Students from across Thames Valley heard the call to action. By June 2009, OSSTF had received one hundred and forty-three entries for the Student Voices for Attawapiskat Creative Arts Contest. Submissions for the contest were in the form of a open letter (to Chuck Strahl, MP for Northern Development and Indian Affairs) or a poster that visually conveyed a message to our government that the children of Attawapiskat deserve a new school.
For more information, please contact:
Colleen Canon, OSSTF Federation Services Officer, 519-659-6588 ext. 104 or ColleenCanon@osstf11.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OCTOBER 22, 2009
RETIREMENT SECURITY FOR CANADIANS
Layton announces plan to reform Canada’s pension systems OTTAWA – The recession has exposed serious flaws in Canada’s retirement savings system and has placed at risk the pension plans that many Canadians have paid into during their entire careers, New Democrat leader Jack Layton said today. “Canadians are worried. They have seen their RRSP savings shrink or had their pensions collapse when their employers went under,” said Mr. Layton. “People who worked their whole lives, paid taxes and trusted in government to ensure income security in their later years are instead facing uncertain futures with inadequate resources. We need to offer people better protection.” At least 11 million Canadians have only their public pensions to rely on for their retirement, and, at current levels, those pensions offer benefits that are far from adequate. The measures Layton announced today are part of a comprehensive retirement-security plan that will benefit all Canadians. It was developed after months of cross-country consultations undertaken by New Democrat Pensions Critic Wayne Marston. The features of the policy announced today are: