UOI OFFICES, Nipissing First Nation, Oct. 25, 2013 /CNW/ - Grand Council
Chief Patrick Madahbee says, if implemented, the Harper government's
First Nations Education Act would repeat mistakes of the past and
increase the barriers between government and First Nation relations.
"The proposed First Nations Education Act (FNEA) is about control and
false accountability," says Madahbee. "It is a colonial document and
makes no attempt to close the gap on inequality in education."
Madahbee says that last year First Nations educators made
recommendations to the Federal Government for a child-centered system
where culture and language would be key elements, however, the draft
First Nation Education Act appears to be more about financial
accountability where First Nations lack financial resources.
"Canada tries to cloak its arbitrary methods by referring to them as a
'reform' of First Nations education," says Madahbee. "The main reform
needed is to ensure that First Nation students have access to the same
quality of education as other students in Canada. That is not
happening, and the proposed Act would make the situation worse than it
The Grand Council Chief said the FNEA fails First Nations students in
three key areas.
"Firstly, it gives our citizens, parents and students no say in their
own education. This government just cannot bring itself to consult with
our citizens in a meaningful way because they believe they know what's
best for our children. This is the same mentality as the government-run
residential school disaster that had a history littered with genocide
and acts of inhumanity.
"Secondly, it ignores curriculum needs that experts agree are essential
to the academic success of First Nations learners - curriculum that
talks about our culture and beliefs, and an accurate account of our
historical contributions. Provincial public schools are at least
attempting to do that, but federal bureaucrats think they know better
"And thirdly, this government starts their so-called educational reform
with a threat to First Nations that if they don't meet Canadian
standards they will be put under third-party management, despite the
fact that First Nation schools are largely underfunded and are unlikely
to meet standards set by other, better funded schools. For example, the
school in Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (Rocky Bay First Nation)
receives $4781 less per student than nearby provincially-funded Upsala School in the
Keewatin Patricia District School Board."
The Anishinabek Nation has spent the last two decades negotiating with
Canada for its own Anishinabek Education System.
"The Anishinabek Education System is holistically-rooted in community
involvement, Anishinaabe identity, and meaningful First Nations
curriculum that puts language and children at the focal point of
education," says Madahbee. "This is the type of system that will
provide educational success for Anishinabek Nation students, not
another government-run system where there's decades of proof that they
cannot do the job."
The Grand Council Chief pointed to the success of an education agreement
between 11 Mi'Kmaq communities and Canada that dates back to 1997.
"Their graduation rate this year was almost 90 per cent," says Madahbee.
"That's because First Nations communities came together and decided
what was best for their students - they have First Nation control of
First Nation education."
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to
which Canada endorsed, says: "Indigenous people have the right to
establish and control their education systems and institutions in a
manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning."
The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its
secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 39 member
communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people.
The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in
Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires,
which existed long before European contact.
SOURCE: Anishinabek Nation
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