Enough is enough: Aboriginal students demand action to broaden access to post-secondary education

OTTAWA, Jan. 25, 2012 /CNW/ - Students call on the federal government to honour the Treaty rights guaranteed to Aboriginal students to access post-secondary education. Despite rising tuition fees in many provinces, the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) has been capped at two per cent growth since 1996. This has prevented tens of thousands of Aboriginal students from attending college or university.

"If the federal government is serious about providing Aboriginal students with the opportunity to get the skills and training they need to participate in the Canadian economy, it should increase funding available to students who are ready to attend college or university," said Patrick Smoke, Aboriginal Students' Representative for the Canadian Federation of Students. "The PSSSP has been shown to be a very successful program, but it is dramatically short on funds."

Due to the funding cap on the PSSSP, approximately 20,000 eligible students are currently on a waiting list to get funding to continue their studies. First Nations and Inuit communities are forced to make extremely difficult decisions about who to fund, and for how much, using limited funds. In addition, Metis and non-status students receive no funding to pursue their education.

"Above and beyond the moral and legal obligation of the federal government to fund Aboriginal Students access to education, ensuring Aboriginal students' right to education would have a significant impact on the Canadian economy," added Smoke. "The federal government must lift the funding cap on the PSSSP and deliver on long-time promises to Aboriginal Peoples."

In one week, on February 1, students from across the country will hold a National Student Day of Action to call for increased access to post-secondary education for all students. Students will be holding actions and rallies in several Canadian cities including Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Regina and Vancouver to reduce tuition fees, drop student debt and increase education funding.

For more information on the February 1 National Student Day of Action, see www.educationisaright.ca.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

For further information:

Roxanne Dubois, National Chairperson, 613-232-7394

Patrick Smoke, Aboriginal Students' Representative, 705-931-2445


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