Majority of Canadians Support Direct Funding of First Nations Students

OTTAWA, June 23 /CNW Telbec/ - A clear majority of Canadians - fifty-seven percent - want federal funding for post-secondary education of First Nations youth to go directly to the individuals themselves. This is the key finding of a national survey carried out for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute by COMPAS Inc., in May, 2010.

The survey echoes the findings of a Macdonald-Laurier study, titled Free to Learn (http://www.macdonaldlaurier.ca/FreeToLearn), that calls on the federal government to reform its funding of post-secondary education for First Nations students. The key proposal of authors Calvin Helin and Dave Snow is to create Aboriginal Post Secondary Savings Accounts that would be opened at birth for every registered First Nations child. The report was released in March.

A program such as this would provide empowerment directly to individual aboriginal students as they plan their own education and choices for learning. It would replace the government's cumbersome Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which gives $314-million annually to First Nations band councils to distribute it as they see fit with little or no accountability.

In releasing the poll results, Brian Lee Crowley, Managing Director of the Institute, said: "We are pleased to see that Canadians are willing to look at new models for the delivery of essential programs for our aboriginal youth. Education is the cornerstone for success for any child."

He went on to note: "Aboriginal post-secondary education funding is in need of an overhaul and part of the change should be to put dollars directly into the hands of those who use them."

Mr. Crowley pointed out that the survey also asked respondents if they thought that First Nations people had too much power, just enough, or too little power. Responses indicated that only 20% thought First Nations have too much power, 35% said just enough, and 31% thought First Nations have too little power. He added: "Among the latter group, support for direct payment is even higher than among the public as a whole - 66% vs. 57%. This provides further evidence that many Canadians are sympathetic to the individual empowerment that we have proposed."

    
                      Survey details are attached below

      Free to Learn may be downloaded free from the Institute's website
                           www.macdonaldlaurier.ca


    Survey Details:

    Attitudes towards Funding Higher Education in First Nations Communities
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                    CURRENT
                                   METHOD OF        PROPOSAL
                                  TRANSMITTING     FOR DIRECT     DON'T KNOW/
                                   SUBSIDIES        PAYMENT       NO OPINION
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    All Canadians                           32             57             11
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Canadians who feel
     First Nations have too
     little power                           26             66              8
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Question 1: There's been talk about the best way of funding higher
    education for First Nations communities. ROTATE Some people prefer the
    current method, whereby taxpayer money goes to the local First Nations
    governments for the elected officials to distribute. Other people prefer
    the money to go directly to students themselves to remove any risk of
    political interference. Which of these options do you prefer?
    Question 2: Do you believe that First Nations people have too much power,
    just enough power, or too little power?
    The national representative survey of approximately 500 respondents is
    considered accurate to within approximately 4.5 percentage points 19
    times out of 20. It was conducted during May, 2010. The principal
    investigator was Conrad Winn Ph.D.
    

SOURCE MACDONALD-LAURIER INSTITUTE

For further information: For further information: or to arrange an interview with Calvin Helin, Dave Snow or Brian Lee Crowley, please contact Stephanie Delorme at 613-482-8327 ext. 101, stephanie.delorme@macdonaldlaurier.ca

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