I guess I understand the question behind the question, but, the answer isn’t an easy one. Why build playgrounds in remote First Naions communities when there seem to be so many other “important” issues? Some of these issues include:
1) Lack of clean drinking water. 1 in 5 First Nations reserves do not have access to clean drinking water and/or are under a ‘water boil” advisory. There are organizations raising literally billions of dollars to provide clean drinking water to third world countries around the world, while First Nations here at home, suffer with illness and potential disease because of the quality of their water.
2) Education. First Nations students are underfunded between 2 and 4 thousand dollars a year (so in a class of 30, First Nations would receive aproximately $120,000 less every year than my class in Niagara Falls). It’s no wonder the education standards are 3 to 4 years behind non First Nations schools and the dropout rate is so high.
3) Housing. Overcrowding is a huge issue and one that caused Attawapiskat Ontario to declare a state of emergency last year. I visited a 3 bedroom home that had been condemend 4 years ago. The 19 family members were forced to stay in this home because there was no where else to live.
4) Healthcare. A First Nations lady in New Brunswick just won a year long court case trying to get the same level of care for her son as she would if she was off reserve and non-aboriginal. That’s insane! Thank God she won the case and her son can now be treated; but really – why in the world should she have to fight in court to get the same level of care as I would get?
These are just a few examples of some of the issues I am aware – and yes, I know – there are many, many more. So, back to the question. With so many BIG issues facing First Nations people, why are playgrounds important?
If you take a look at the four issues above, you may see a common denominator. In a city like Toronto, Vancouver or even my town of Niagara Falls, none of these issues would be acceptable. We, as Canadian citizens would demand our rights and force changes. So how is it that we continue to allow these sorts of things to continue for First Nations? I’ll leave that for you to answer, but, in that answer lies the answer to “why playgrounds”.
Where I live (Niagara Falls), there are 55 playrounds, 3 of which are in my neighborhood. I think that’s awesome! Anytime my friends and I want to do something, we head to the playground for a game of grounders. Growing up, my parents would always take us to the playground to just run around and have fun.
When obesity in Canadian children is reported at 30%, it just makes sense to encourage outdoor physical activity among children and youth. Other benefits include the development of social skills – in fact – many experts believe that the social skills learned on the playground benefits the country as a whole.
Children who play on a playground develop greater self-confidence and highe self esteem. And – playground play actually helps children’s brains develop as they “learn about the world through motor activities and sensory experiences”, according to the Shasta report.
Playgrounds are important. My city believes that – that’s why we have 55.
So – if playgrounds are important and we agree there are benefits to allowin children to play on playgrounds – how is it that so many First Nations reserves don’t have even one?
This is not about charity. With First Nations youth the fastest growing group in Canada; this is about justice.
I believe First Nations children should have access to clean drinking water.
I believe First Nations children should have access to equitable education.
I believe First Nations children should have access to equitable health care.
And – I believe that there should be at least one playround in every First Nations community
because that’s just fair.