Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 5, 2001 - Issue 35



Club Message to Native Kids: Stay in School


 by Suzanne Fournier The Province

Vancouver, BC - At 10 years old in Grade 5, Kymberlee Stogan is already making history: She loves school, has almost perfect attendance and she excels at academics, sports and helping younger kids.

"I just really love school, I look forward to coming here each day," says Kymberlee, who attends Southlands Elementary School, where about 60 of the 300 kids are aboriginal.

Kymberlee is certain she'll stay in school right through to Grade 12 and hopefully beyond.

Unfortunately that's where Kymberlee, --the great-granddaughter of the late Musqueam leader Vincent Stogan -- is making history, because the vast majority of native kids never graduate.

The crucial years are Grade 5 to Grade 8, when attendance does a nose-dive. By Grade 8, 12 per cent of aboriginal learners drop out, compared to only 4 per cent of non-natives.

Only 38 per cent of B.C. native students graduate, compared to 78 per cent of non-natives.

"The statistics are brutal," agrees Christa Williams, a 33-year-old N'laka'pamux with an honours science degree who speaks for the First Nations Education Steering Committee. "I want kids to know how crucial it is to stay in school, for themselves and their kids, and how important attendance is -- you don't get an education if you're not sitting in class."

Both Kymberlee and Williams are getting some big-time help to achieve their goals from the Seventh Generation Club, a youth development initiative co-sponsored by the Vancouver Canucks and the Grizzlies.

The Club, which holds its major fundraising gala tonight, encourages all kids to stay in school and graduate but is focussed on First Nations children, who face extra challenges.

Tiare LaPorte, a First Nations youth and family worker who has been at Southlands for five years, applauds the Club, which publishes newsletters, runs contests and gives out prizes and tickets to major-league sports events.

"It's a real incentive because these athletes are heroes to many First Nations kids, and the club also gives out material that's really cool."

Seventh Generation Club




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