Who says race-based schools are a bad idea?

“So are segregated schools the problem or the solution? Clearly, they are not the solution.”

Re. Dec. 3 editorial by Lee Giles, headlined We don’t need race-based schools:

“So are segregated schools the problem or the solution? Clearly, they are not the solution.”

This quoted from the editorial mentioned above. I strongly disagree with Giles.

I am certainly not prepared to comment on Winnipeg’s aboriginal gang situation, the growing violent crime problems or Manitoba’s provincially mandated school curriculums, but there are a few things that I am prepared to comment on.

First of all, the aboriginal community in Manitoba is growing faster than the non-aboriginal population.

From 2004 to 2017, the total aboriginal growth rate is projected to be 29.4 per cent compared with 8.3 per cent for the non-aboriginal community.

Sixteen years ago, a separate publicly funded school division was created for French-speaking Manitobans.

Damon Johnston, president of the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, is justified in asking “why should aboriginal people be denied the same thing?” Look at the demographics.

Secondly, Canada’s residential schools were created by European-decent Canadians as an attempt to assimilate the aboriginal community into a euro-centric society.

The aboriginal community did not propose or agree to a school system that allowed their young children to be taken from their homes and placed in institutions where they were forbidden to speak their language, told that their traditions and way of life was savage, and where their children were repeatedly abused physically, sexually and emotionally.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology and compensation measures are long overdue.

What it cost aboriginal society and culture far outweighs the meager costs paid out by the taxpayers.

What the aboriginal community is presently proposing in Winnipeg is drastically different from the shameful historic residential schools that were once part of our society.

The purpose of a separate aboriginal school is a school where aboriginal culture is allowed to permeate and be lived throughout the school curriculum. Anyone who would think that these two school systems are similar is sadly mistaken.

Finally, it is understandable that a person of majority would have difficulty understanding the idea of a race-based school.

Going to school every day is kind of like looking in a mirror — most of your values, norms and traditions are practised in your school. Not all children in our multicultural society have that luxury.

As an educator, diversity in our classrooms is a blessing, but it comes with challenges.

Janis Nett

Red Deer

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