As part of a country-wide initiative New Brunswick First Nations people rallied outside the provincial legislature in support of their youngest members.
Have a Heart Day was started in 1998 to bring attention and awareness to First Nations youths and the challenges they face.
Kendra Levi-Paul, 11, of Listuguj First Nation traveled for several hours to bring the message to the lawn of the legislature.
“I’m making sure that they’re aware that there’s unfairness toward First Nation children,” she explained. “It just hurts me that it’s just regular people and maybe somebody I know and they could be struggling.”
Levi-Paul said she used to attend a school where conditions were so bad it made her feel sick.
She hopes that rallies like the one she spoke at Tuesday will help ensure everyone understands the difficulties experienced on First Nation reservations.
“I looked in the bathroom. It was horrible, it really grossed me out,” Levi-Paul said. “Some of the stalls didn’t even have a door.”
“I would like it that schools are beautifully furnished and people have really good health care,” she said.
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The young band member spoke in front of the crowd of approximately 50 people with confidence as she reiterated her goals.
She had hoped to speak directly with Premier Brian Gallant. Although he wasn’t in attendance, Deputy Premier Stephen Horsman took part in the rally, speaking and accepting letters and crafts from the First Nations youth.
“He has pretty much control of New Brunswick and I’m just an 11-year-old kid, I don’t have much control,” she said of Gallant. “But today it seems like I did.”
Tobique First Nation Chief Ross Perley said he came to support their youth and has high hopes for a rally of this type, in which their “most important resources” can take centre stage.
“Hopefully the government will listen to them since they don’t listen to the rights tribunal and they don’t listen to the chiefs,” Perley said.
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