February 7, 2014
(Kainai High School, Kainai Treaty No. 7, AB) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo was at Kainai High School today in Alberta to announce the beginning of a new approach to First Nations control of First Nations education.
“Today is about the beginning of a new era of fairness, opportunity and hope for First Nations children, youth and students,” said National Chief Atleo. “Today is a victory for First Nations leaders and citizens who have for decades, indeed since the first generation of residential school survivors, called for First Nations control of First Nations education. The approach we are announcing today embraces the essential and connected components of First Nations control of First Nations education founded on our rights, jurisdiction and Treaties; and secure, sustainable and fair funding that supports our students’ success and strengthens their languages and cultures. First Nations control of First Nations education as envisioned by our leaders and educators for many decades will enable and support the systems and standards necessary to ensure our children are nurtured to achieve their goals through full access to quality education.”
The National Chief was at Kainai High School in the traditional territory of the Kainai Nation to make the announcement along with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, AFN Regional Chief and Chair of the Chiefs Committee on Education Morley Googoo, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt and First Nations leaders, Elders, students and citizens.
“We know that where we see First Nations control, we see success,” said Nova Scotia-Newfoundland Regional Chief Googoo. “First Nations leaders rejected the October proposal put forward by the Government and and stood together to set-out the requirements for change. Today, we are embarking on a path forward based on the direction from Chiefs that will, at long last, lead us to a new era in First Nations education. We are closing the gap in funding and we will close the gap in education between First Nations and non-Indigenous students.”
Consistent with AFN resolution 21/2013, “Outlining the Path Forward: Conditions for the Success of First Nations Education”, adopted by consensus at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in December 2013, the new approach will respect and recognize First Nations rights, title, Treaty rights and jurisdiction; provides for a statutory guarantee of funding, including funding to support First Nations educations systems grounded in Indigenous languages and cultures; mechanisms for reciprocal accountability with no unilateral federal oversight or authority; and ongoing meaningful dialogue and development of options by First Nations and Canada for an enabling framework for the success of First Nations students and schools.
First Nations have been pressing for many decades the urgent need to invest in our children and our schools. This announcement today is the elimination of many financial gaps such as ending the 2 percent cap and establishing a reasonable, stable and fair rate of growth now and in the long-term. There are also investments to support the transition to and building of systems – supporting that work which is underway and enabling others to take this on. And finally there are investments to build schools.
“Investing in First Nations youth, the youngest and fastest growing population in the country, is an investment in our shared future because strong First Nations make a strong Canada,” said National Chief Atleo. “But today is not the culmination of our work, it is the beginning. First Nations must decide on the approach that works for them to make First Nations control a reality. Some are already moving, some are ready to move and others must engage with their citizens to chart the path forward. This is not easy work but it is important work and it is essential work to strengthen our citizens and rebuild our nations. We will seize this moment. Now is our time”
- Backgrounder: First Nations Education funding http://www.afn.ca/uploads/files/education/backgrounder_first_nations_education_funding.pdf
- A clear path forward on First Nations Education
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]
Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or [email protected]