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Our Responsibility: Making an Impact as a Citizen of Canada

This weekend I find myself hundreds of miles north of St. Clement’s School with a profound sense of excitement as well as responsibility- responsibility both to our school and to our country. A daunting thought? Perhaps- however, it has been felt before by previous leaders of our school.

During the past week, I spent a brief time with an alumna, Andrea, who has been tasked with using archival material to write a report for a first year university course at the University of Toronto. She has chosen to research Miss E. Gordon Waugh, Headmistress of St. Clement’s from 1917 to 1959. Andrea was showing me some of Miss Waugh’s scrapbooks, and we stumbled upon a letter written by an alumna, Gladys Hargreaves, to Miss Waugh.  In it Ms Hargreaves writes that “St. Clement’s was founded and is constantly operated on the basis of developing good Canadian citizens, who will be prepared to take their place in life and discharge their duties in a commendable manner.”

That thought has stayed with me this weekend as I have travelled to Moose Factory to meet with Moose Cree community members with whom we share a very special and committed relationship.

Two faculty members and I have been with many community members learning of the great work they are doing to try to support Moose Cree youth through programs and education. I realize how important it is for St. Clement’s to continue developing good Canadian citizens. In the future, our girls will be leading with courage and compassion in their support for our aboriginal populations.

Nowhere was this more evident than when talking with the principal of Delores D.Echum Composite School in Moose Factory. This school, as a First Nations school, is funded by our Federal Government and receives 40% less operational funding and their teachers are being paid 30% less than the nearby provincially-funded public high school. It may not surprise you, then, to know that the academically-focused students are leaving this school to attend the other and that it is very difficult to keep strong teachers for very long.  Fortunately for their Principal, he has indicated that he currently has a strong staff but he is realistic in adding that he does not know for how long. As we all know, education is most often- if not always- fundamental in facilitating positive change.

This trip to meet the Moose Cree community in Moose Factory has been one of great importance for me. The strong partnership we are building with this aboriginal community will enable our girls to learn from them and to engage in discussing and addressing the great inequities that affect our country’s aboriginal peoples. This makes me confident that   “St. Clement’s is operating on the basis of developing good Canadian citizens, who will be prepared to take their place in life and discharge their duties in a commendable manner.”

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