Recently, a friend of mine, who just started blogging I might add, posted a poll asking readers if they thought that Manitoba is a welfare state. The results of his small but significant sample was that 93% of respondents agreed that Manitoba was a welfare state. Now I generally leave the controversial topics to my friend, but it left me asking the question, “What’s wrong with our economic, political, social, or educational system that we are seeing a dependency on social assistance?” I remember back some years ago when my students turned 18 years old, they would leave school at 3:30 and immediately lined up at the band office to collect their cheque for $122.50 twice a month.
This week, I sat down with an Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) official, who explained the new Active Measures program targeting 15-30 year old First Nations youth living on-reserve. I didn’t know this, but things have changed with regard to welfare. Once you turn 18 years old, you don’t automatically qualify for Social Assistance (SA). You have to sit down with the SA worker and develop a plan that includes, finishing your education and getting training. There has to be a plan for getting the 18 yr old or older off SA and entering the workforce. So things are changing, and this is a good thing for our youth. They need to stay in school and finish their education. They need to have a plan for their life and what they want to do, or what career they want to enter. It is time for our First Nations youth to be as Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Yes, we have had it rough sometimes in the past living on the Rez. I’ve been there and done that, too. But we can choose to live like there is no hope, and feeling stuck, or we can be the change we want to see. We want change on the Rez, then it can start with each one of us living on the Rez. We want to see businesses develop and employment opportunities, then we need to be the change and make it happen. It is time for change.
I watched this video from Tedtalk yesterday about a young name in Malawi, who grew up on a poor farm. He dropped out of school to help his father farm, but then a famine hit, and they had nothing. No SA from the government. No outside aid from relief agencies. So one day he went to the village library and read a Physics book about how to create a windmill for pumping water and creating electricity. It’s an amazing story of innovation and hope. It’s about a young man, who decided to be the change and make a difference. Great story! William Kamkwamba: How I harnessed the wind
I realize that not everyone is as creative as William, but I believe that all of our eStudents Credenda have potential to express creativity in a variety of ways and better their lives with education. We just celebrated Thanksgiving in Canada, and yet what did we give thanks for? We could live in Malawi, or another third world country racked with poverty, civil war, disease, and suffering. But many of us live in great wealth, and have to wear the latest LuluLemon outfit, or drive the fanciest car to be happy. And yet sadly, many times I find myself and others grumbling and complaining. I need to be the change as well. It’s not just our kids; it’s us as adults as well. I want to possess the drive like young William to bring change, positive change to my life and the lives of others. Together, we can do this. Are you in?