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Wednesday September 2 2015
4:32 AM EDT
2014-02-07 at 17:16

‘Reshuffling?’

FILE -- Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy (left) said he still has many questions about First Nations education act.
tbnewswatch.com
FILE -- Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy (left) said he still has many questions about First Nations education act.
By Jodi Lundmark, tbnewswatch.com

The federal government announced more than $1 billion for First Nations education Friday and Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy is wondering where that funding will come from.

"Where is all the money coming from in light of the fact that we have so many cutbacks in many areas of First Nations programs and services?" said Beardy Friday afternoon.

"Is this a reshuffling of excessive dollars and pool everything on education?"

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the plan at a high school on the Blood reserve in southern Alberta alongside Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo.

Called the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, Harper announced $1.25 billion over three years beginning in 2016 with an annual increase of 4.5 per cent.

There will also be $500 million for school infrastructure over seven years and $160 million over four years for implementation.

The Canadian Press reported the plan also calls for minimum education standards consistent with provincial standards off-reserve. The act also says students will have to meet attendance requirements and teachers will have to be properly certified.

While Atleo called it the beginning of a new era for First Nations children, Beardy said he still has questions.

"It's just an announcement. There are no real details," he said.

However, the Ontario chief said they do welcome dialogue.

"I think this is an opportunity to sit down with the federal government and try to find a way how we're going to move together on this," he said.

Beardy added it's good the discussion on education for First Nations children is out in the forefront.

"Opportunities for First Nations children to access proper education is lacking and it's a burden on society as a whole. If First Nations do well in terms of education, then all of Canada benefits," he said.

MP Greg Rickford (Con., Kenora) was in Alberta for the announcement Friday and said the deal was historic, echoing the prime minister's remarks.

"I think it brings in line mutual objectives of ensuring First Nations youth have access to the same standard of education as public schools do across the provinces," he said.

The financial details of the plan will be unveiled in the federal budget next week.

 

--with files from The Canadian Press


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