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2013-12-04 at 13:58

Taking control

By Jamie Smith,
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First Nation leaders say they’re ready to control their own education, but remain skeptical the federal government will give up that control.

First Nation representatives across Canada have been voicing opposition to the federal government's proposed First Nations Education Act since it was first quietly released in October.

Now in the middle of a two-month period to hear input on the draft legislation, Nishnawbe Aski Nation hosted a march to the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada offices Wednesday morning to say “no” to the act.

NAN Deputy Chief Goyce Kakeganmic said the federal government wondered if there was grassroots opposition to the act.

With dozens of students, men and women rallying in the wind and cold, it's not just First Nations politicians who are upset over the idea he said.

"The government is pushing this issue down out throats without consultation," Kakegamic said. "It's the people themselves that are standing up today."

Story continues after video ...


While operation and some administration would be controlled by band councils, under the act the federal government would still control standards such as curriculum.

Union of Ontario Indians Northern Superior Grand Chief Peter Collins said First Nations are ready to control their own education system in its entirety. A template for how that could work has even been written and sent to the federal government with no reply yet.

"We don't see that yet and we don't see that happening anytime soon," he said.
"We don't need the government dictating to us who we are, what we are and how we should be governed."

Kakegamic and Collins said there are challenges in First Nations education right now but by taking control of the system, First Nations themselves could improve the situation.

"First Nations aren't failing, it's the system failing First Nations," Kakegamic told the rally.

The proposed act can be read here.

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Dockboy says:
Let First Nations govern their own education, let them take control of the path to the future. They are self sufficient enough to know the direction they want to go.
12/4/2013 3:13:58 PM
Undrgrnd says:
So, someone tell me how this equality and not segregation?

"under the act the federal government would still control standards such as curriculum." - Um, yeah..they way it always has. No one asked my mother if she had any input on what we were taught. As a parent now, on one has asked me if I have any input on what they teach my daughter.

"We don't need the government dictating to us who we are, what we are and how we should be governed."
- Look, education is a "one-size-fits-all" system in this country. And it has to be. I'm sure there are Italian parents in this city who would love to send their kids to an Italian school which focuses on Italian history; or Finnish parents to a Finnish school. But it just doesn't work like that.
I think First Nations rights groups in this country need to pick their battles, ones which lend to helping their credibility. Not hurting it as I see this one doing. This is my opinion however, and I welcome the forthcoming criticism.

12/4/2013 3:45:46 PM
humnchuck says:
Educational funding and curriculum is a provincial responsibility. As I understand it, First Nations schools on reserve lands are federally-funded and have not been obligated to follow provincial curricula. Federal funding for education has been at significantly lower per pupil rates than provincially.

Actually, members of the public are consulted on the content of curricular areas. You also have every right to voice your concerns about curricular content with your child's school. Why shouldn't First Nations folks have the same right?
12/4/2013 4:13:03 PM
Undrgrnd says:
Provincial variances on education curriculum are almost non-existent. And with the upcoming Canadian version of the U.S.'s Common Core program, they will be. I'm talking the basics here: M,E,S,H.

And yes, you are correct in that parents can voice concern over curriculum and often have. The reality is, you can't cater to everyone and every social/race/ethnic and religious group. Which alludes to my original question; how is this equality and not segregation?

I do believe FN in this country, especially those on remote reserves, have every right to adequate education. But it should be an education that serves them. How does teaching a percentage of the population a specialized system while the rest of the country is taught another prepare them for workforce competition? It is not a FN country no more than it is a white man's.

12/4/2013 5:41:01 PM
Jeannied says:
"Provincial variances on education curriculum are almost non-existent"
This is an untrue statement and it should be backed up with citation if you are going to assert that. The fact is there are wide differences in what children and youth are taught. Sure the ultimate goal might be somewhat standardized in the levels of math, English etc but how they get there is really up to the educators and varies widely. It has to. So children on a reserve get different curriculum, what do you care? Catholics do from public school. Homeschooled kids thrive in unstructured learning. Private schools have different programs than everyone. If it gets the kids educated why do you have such a problem?
12/5/2013 10:09:47 AM
Common cents says:
So the school located on FWFN is federally funded?

Do you know if Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School is funded by the Federal Government also?
12/4/2013 6:52:22 PM
DRL1979 says:
There is no school on FWFN
12/5/2013 12:32:38 PM
adubs says:
Yes, DFC is federally funded
12/5/2013 12:37:38 PM
Jeannied says:
Education isn't a one size fits all situation in Canada, not by a long shot.
There are just as many variations on curriculum as you can imagine.
Also, if you don't like what your child is being taught you can certainly homeschool or use a supplementary curriculum you design. Doesn't that just make sense? Join People for Education.
There are reasons why the current system does NOT work in remote reserves, and hasn't for years and years. I think it's awesome that these groups are finally standing up for having input into the ways they are educated.
12/5/2013 10:01:06 AM
skoday says:
The feds should ensure funding for First Nations matches that in the mainstream. Now it's around half. The descendants of immigrants benefiting from living in this treaty settled land should appreciate the level of education they receive for their children and demand it for those who made it possible-First Nations. The underfunded education system on reserves will be made worst by the First Nations Education Act. Every socio-economic ill in Canada have an over representation of Aboriginal people rooted in poor education prospects.
12/4/2013 4:36:52 PM
tsb says:
In Thunder Bay, we elect a board of trustees to oversee our education system. First Nations do not have this right for their own education system.

In Thunder Bay, we pay property taxes to support our education system. First Nations do not have the right to levy any form of tax, and therefore must depend on government funding or special agreements to raise funds.

In Thunder Bay, even underfunded schools receive far more per student than a school on a northern reserve, in spite of the higher costs associate with running those schools.

It is illegal for a provincially funded school to be located on a reserve, which effectively blocks boards like Lakehead from operating schools on reserves. And if it was possible, the illegality of property taxes on those reserves and inability of them to elect trustees (as they cannot follow the provincial election schedule due to greatly different election laws in the Indian Act) would leave them without representation.

Just, FYI.
12/4/2013 6:14:44 PM
conker2012 says:
Underfunded schools do not receive more per student in Thunder Bay, the actually receive less from the provincial government than the FN schools that are federally funded.

The difference comes from the property tax of residents.

FN can charge their residents property tax but they don't want to. It sets a precedence and this is what the leaders don't want. Once they take responsibility today they can never give that back to the government.

Have you heard the expression " don't bite the hand that feeds "
12/5/2013 11:50:32 AM
SomeGuy says:
If you want to end poverty then education is the answer.

If the First Nations' people want to handle there education then it must meet the same standards as other school boards. They also must be held accountable financially and socially.

12/4/2013 7:10:56 PM
newhere says:
Its been said that the first victim of a disagreement is often the truth and this issue is a case in point. The funding for FN education on reserve is not "half" of what is provided in the mainstream. Although the formula for funding FN education has a per pupil amount considerably less than the provincial amount, what critics fail to state is that FN on reserve education also receives considerable funding in other formulae so that when added together the actual per student amounts are very close and in fact, in many cases, are more than the provincial amount. FNs have been able to exert control over their education programs for decades. This entire debate would be so much more productive if responsibility as opposed to political expediency played the major role. The Feds have been complicit in this charade. All main characters are fully aware that this is not primarily a funding or jurisdictional issue but rather a lack of competency and vision of most all involved. Shameful!
12/4/2013 11:27:19 PM
Bobguy says:
It should be simple. Equal education for all. In fact, put 20 percent more resources into First Nation education.

There should be a standard curriculum for all based on the provincial curriculum and the teachers can integrate cultural beliefs into their lessons.

Spending in education is an investment. It is a lot cheaper than jails, welfare and detox centres in the future.

Give people hope and they will carve their own future. Give people dispare and they will hide from their future.
12/5/2013 9:01:17 AM
guy11 says:
Canada needs to improve it's education system. For everyone! Have 1 system for everyone and put focus on students having more hours of work. Canada is slipping big time. Making seperate systems is just going to complicate things. We need the focus to be on young canadians futures. Maybe they don't want to do an hour or two of homework a night but down the road they will wish they had..a little off topic but something to consider.
12/5/2013 9:04:07 AM
Greenstoner says:
Putting the funding nightmare aside, I fully support a more culturally-based system for First nations. But I have a problem reconciling how the two systems would come together so that the entry requirements for post high school (university or college programs) can be met on an equal basis. It is my understanding (and I could be totally incorrect here) that FN students entering high school from a reserve elementary school are already 2-3 grades behind the level of an off-reserve elementary school.
At the end of the day professional qualifications have to be met on an equal basis.
12/5/2013 1:00:38 PM
lori says:
why is this a federal issue, because things that happen on reserves are a federal responsibility/jurisdiction


Would that be health care
Energy needs
access like road
Mineral development

or do the Feds just get to pick and choose the things they want to deal with

As for this issue, yet again we have a group of people telling the native community what is BEST for them.

How well has that been working out in other areas
12/5/2013 9:44:14 PM
Tiredofit says:
The catholic system teaches different curriculum than the public system. The biggest thing that FN want to teach is their history and their language. All other items are the same. What's the difference?
12/6/2013 7:37:32 AM
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