Shannen and the Dream for a School

Shannen and the Dream for a School


By Janet Wilson


All children have the right to a school...

This is the true story of Shannen Koostachin and the people of Attawapiskat, a Cree community in Northern Ontario, who have been fighting for a new school since the late 1970s when a fuel leak contaminated their original school building.

It is 2008, and thirteen-year-old Shannen and the other students at J.R. Nakogee Elementary are tired of attending class in portables that smell and don’t keep out the freezing cold winter air. They make a YouTube video describing the poor conditions, and their plea for a decent school gains them attention and support from community leaders and children across the country. Inspired, the students decide to turn their grade-eight class trip into a visit to Ottawa to speak to the Canadian government. Once there, Shannen speaks passionately to the politicians about the need to give Native children the opportunity to succeed. The following summer, Shannen is nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. Her passion and that of the other students makes politicians stand up and take notice, and becomes a rallying point for the community and for the country.

Shannen will never see her dream fulfilled. Tragically, she was killed in a car crash in 2010. Her family, friends, and supporters are continuing to fight and to honor her memory as they work for equality for children in communities everywhere.

A Kids' Power Book

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About the Author

Janet Wilson is an author and fine artist. Her book Shannen and the Dream for a School won the First Nation Communities Read award, was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, and is soon to be a TV movie. Her picture book, Our Earth: How kids are saving the planet, was the winner of the Science in Society Book Award. Janet lives in Eden Mills, Ontario, a community with a strong environmental focus.

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Product Information

  • Release: October 1, 2011

  • $14.95 Paperback

  • 208 Pages

  • 6.5 x 8

  • Juvenile Nonfiction

  • Ages 9-13 / Grades 5-8

  • Lexile: 840L Guided Reading: V

  • ISBN: 9781926920306


  • Character Education
    > Strong Female Role Models

  • History & Social Studies
    > Canadian History
    > Government & Citizenship
    > Social Justice

  • Reflecting Diversity
    > First Nations & Indigenous Peoples


  • Winner of the 2012-13 First Nation Communities Read program

  • 2013 Silver Birch Non-Fiction Award Finalist

  • 2012-13 Red Cedar Award Finalist

  • 2013 Rocky Mountain Book Award Finalist

  • ForeWord Book of the Year Award Finalist


Video Resources


Praise for Shannen and the Dream for a School

"The many non-fiction text features (photographs, captions, quotes, excerpts from newspaper articles, maps, diagrams, fact boxes, a timeline, glossary) plus a lively writing style make this an accessible book for a variety of young readers." - Canadian Teacher Magazine

"This readable, inspiring story is thoroughly engaging. It’s both informative and politically rousing; even more precious than these qualities, perhaps, is its portrait of a Northern family and community." - Toronto Star

"Janet Wilson has written a powerful account of the true story of one Aboriginal girl's fight for safe and comfortable schools for all children." - CM: Canadian Review of Materials

"This book should be mandatory reading material for middle school students. It is a gentle introduction to the way in which Canada has failed to live up to its treaty obligations." - Another Step to Take