A video inviting Justin Trudeau to the grand opening of the Manitoba First Nations School System has gone viral and prompted a video response from the prime minister himself.
The school system is hosting its grand opening Wednesday.
Announced in December of 2016, the system is the first of its kind in Canada. It is funded by the federal government, but designed and operated by Manitoba’s first nations.
The new agreement inked with the federal government is meant to give first nations control over their schools, and will give a funding boost to improve education of first nations students. So far, $40 million has been pledged and 10 first nations have signed on.
"It's first nations managed and first nations driven, and first nations have a say in the priorities and how they want their children to be educated,” said Nora Murdock, the school system’s director of system development
Four students from Sergeant Tommy Prince School in Ojibway First Nation made a video to invite Trudeau to the celebration. If he attended, the students promised a ribbon cutting ceremony, bannock and a bowl of stew just for the prime minister.
As of Saturday, it had been viewed over 34,000 times on Facebook.
"My son's in it so all evening I was like 'Mason you're at 7,000 likes, you're at 8,00 likes'. So I just kept kind of calling it out to him,” said Brenda Greyeyes, financial administrator at Sergeant Tommy Prince School.
Days later, Trudeau sent a video of its own, paying homage to the kids’ original invitation.
“You’re the first 2,000 students in Manitoba in a first nations-designed school system. This is historic,” Trudeau said in the video.
The kids were blown away by the response.
“I thought like wow, he went out of his way to make a video to respond. Like props to him,” said Mason Gilmour, a grade 4 student who appeared in the video.
Although the prime minister RSVP’d no to the event because he’ll be out of the country, the kids say his video is an excellent consolation prize.
“He could come any day he wanted,” said Akaden Pashe, one of the video’s stars.