Assembly of First Nations National Chief Welcomes Secured Funding for First Nations Education, Calls for Continued Action in Priority Areas

OTTAWA, Feb. 11, 2014 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo responded to today's 2014 federal budget by acknowledging the announcement of new, significant and secured funding for First Nations education as a foundation for building stronger First Nations citizens, communities and governments.  National Chief Atleo stands with all First Nations in continuing the press for investments in other priority areas that will achieve success for First Nations and all Canadians based on fairness and opportunity.

"We welcome this necessary investment to support our new way forward toward First Nations control of First Nations education based on our rights, jurisdiction and Treaties," said AFN National Chief Atleo.  "This is new funding that is now secured in the federal budget.  This will help close the gap and support fairness and success for First Nations children and students.  The resources in today's budget are the result of strong advocacy and action by First Nations leaders, youth and Elders and we commend all those who stand with us in taking action to realize our long-standing vision of First Nations control of First Nations education."

The 2014 federal budget released today by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty confirms new core funding of $1.25 billion from 2016-17 to 2018-19 in support of First Nations education with an annual growth rate of 4.5 per cent, and includes an Enhanced Education Fund that will provide funding of $160 million over four years starting in 2015-16 and $500 million over seven years beginning in 2015-16 for a new First Nations Education Infrastructure Fund. The 2014 federal budget also includes resources for broadband connectivity in rural and northern communities, disaster mitigation in First Nations communities, continued funding for the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan, First Nations Commercial Fisheries Initiatives, a two year renewal of the Aboriginal Justice Strategy and resources aimed at ending violence including violence against Indigenous women and girls.

"While education is a priority because it is a foundation to build healthy and thriving First Nations communities, we know we need to do much more to create safe and secure communities for all our citizens regardless of where they reside," said National Chief Atleo.  "The investments in areas to improve First Nations infrastructure, disaster mitigation, connectivity and others are a start but we need a more concerted effort based on First Nations direction.  This will reduce costs in the short and long-term.  As well, we continue to call for specific action to end violence against First Nations women and girls and action to deal with the tragedy of missing and murdered women and girls."

National Chief Atleo added that the February 7 announcement on a new path forward to First Nations control of First Nations education coupled with today's budget investments marks the beginning of a new era in First Nations education.

"First Nations have rejected unilateral control by the government and are ready to articulate their vision of First Nations control of First Nations education," said National Chief Atleo.  "The AFN will support and help facilitate this work but it must be driven by First Nations.  First Nations have the expertise and the approaches that work to ensure success for our children and students, and will continue to reach out to supportive partners.  Together we will transform the education system to meet the needs of our children, students, and communities supported by secure, stable and sustainable investments."

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations

For further information:

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca