OTTAWA, Sept. 2, 2014 /CNW/ - On a day when many children, students and teachers are returning to school, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is calling for all Canadians to join First Nations in committing to action on education for First Nations children based on the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education.
"As children and students across the country return to school, it is a time to remember that there are almost 40 First Nations communities that do not even have schools or are in dire need of a new one," said AFN National Chief Ghislain Picard. "This is just one reason why our students are facing graduation rates of less than 40% and it is why we need a new approach. Now is the time for all of us to commit to a quality education for First Nations students and this means First Nations control of First Nations education. Where we see First Nations control we see success. First Nations are the youngest, fastest growing population in Canada. They are the future. Action on First Nations education is in all our interests."
First Nations are calling for real engagement with the federal government on an honourable process that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity to achieve First Nations control of First Nations education based on First Nations rights and responsibilities. First Nations overwhelmingly rejected federal legislation, Bill C-33, because it was about federal control of First Nations education. In the wake of that rejection, First Nations are calling for a new path forward leading to genuine First Nations control supported by fair, predictable and stable funding for First Nations education.
AFN National Chief Ghislain Picard said: "First Nations have documented and decried the underfunding of First Nations education for many years now. We are seeking fairness and equity to support success and unlock the full potential of our children, students and nations. Our vision is First Nations control of First Nations education that values our languages and cultures and ensures our students have the skills and knowledge to give them equal opportunity to that of other Canadian students. This is a vision that can be realized now by working together for the well-being of our children."
On August 7, 2014, a committee of First Nations leaders, representatives and experts met in Ottawa to discuss strategy and next steps to advance First Nations education. The National Chief sent a letter to the Prime Minister shortly after seeking a meeting to reinvigorate action on First Nations education as a priority. First Nations will continue to advance their work on implementing First Nations control of First Nations education and achieving fair, stable and equitable education for their children respectful of languages and cultures.
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: Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or firstname.lastname@example.org