Quebec reserve an education success story

Signs are seen on the band's land of Kitigan Zibi next to Maniwaki, Que., Jan 23, 2013. Andre...

Signs are seen on the band's land of Kitigan Zibi next to Maniwaki, Que., Jan 23, 2013. Andre Forget/QMI Agency

Anthony Furey, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:12 PM ET

KITIGAN ZIBI ANISHINABEG, QUE. - Chief Gilbert Whiteduck looks proudest when he's standing in front of the graduation photos that line the walls of the Kitigan Zibi school halls. That's because education has been the cornerstone of Whiteduck's four decades of work in this Algonquin First Nations community in Quebec, 100 km north of Ottawa-Gatineau.

These days Kitigan Zibi - or K-Z as everyone calls it - produces a regular roster of successful grads. The school's current enrolment is 220.

"When our students go to college in Ontario with one less year of high school, they do as well as Ontario students," Whiteduck says.

After all, they've been taught education is the way to a good job. Daycare, health and social services, forestry and more are all "jobs staffed 100% by community members who hold the right degrees."

Of the 3,000 K-Z band members - 1,600 of whom live on-reserve - there are currently 173 enrolled in post-secondary education across the country.

That said, if people return to K-Z after college it's out of choice. "If you do stay, great. But if you want to go work in Edmonton, that's OK too," adds Whiteduck.


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