Linda Goyette began writing about the education of First Nations children in 1980 when a school principal in Cadotte Lake, Alta., called her at the Edmonton Journal to report that his students were playing in raw sewage from overflowing outhouses on the school playground. “In my work, I’ve visited many northern schools in the past 30 years, but I’ve never seen a situation as severe as I witnessed in Attawapiskat, Ont., this spring,” she says. “It made me ashamed of my own country.” The veteran journalist and author has won two National Newspaper Awards and a National Magazine Award for her writing and was awarded the Atkinson Fellowship in Public Policy in 2000 to write a series of stories for The Toronto Star about conflicts between aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians. Goyette’s most recent book, Northern Kids, is a collection of 24 true stories about the evolving history of childhood in northern Canada.
The Cree community of Attawapiskat on James Bay has been fighting for a new elementary school for more than a decade after their first school became a toxic hazard. Will Canada fail the next generation?