UOI OFFICES, NIPISSING FIRST NATION, Oct. 4, 2012 /CNW/ - The Harper government is using big numbers to impress Canadians about how much they are contributing to First Nations educational success, but the numbers are small change compared to what is overdue - and owed - say Anishinabek Nation leaders.
"The fact that it would cost $242 million just to bring current First Nations schools in Ontario up to par shows that $275 million across Canada will have minimal impact," said Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee following the federal government announcement. "The kind of disparity in education funding between First Nations and schools outside of First Nations is a reflection of just how the federal government views First Nations in general. The Harper government is proving that it views First Nations people as substandard so they only deserve substandard funding. Education is a treaty right and that the government is breaking yet another sacred promise."
Madahbee noted that the pre-Confederation government promised a number of First Nations in the early 1800s a modern education system in exchange for a share of lands and resources.
"The schools and education they promised evolved into the notorious Indian Residential Schools where sexual and physical abuse was widespread and First Nations languages and cultures prohibited, " said the Grand Council Chief. "Stephen Harper apologized for that four years ago, but his government still refuses to put actions to his words and help us create equitable educational experiences for First Nations children.
"Canada is a country that was built on promises of government and the goodwill of First Nations," says Madahbee. "It is well-documented that education was the cornerstone to treaty promises for alliances to be built and free use of lands and resources. Yet today First Nations schools across the country go without computers, science labs, art supplies and many other features that mainstream schools take for granted. Teacher salaries are well below the national average and every school has to fight for survival."
"It is insulting to all Canadians that their government would play with figures and suggest that First Nations students are better off than other children. We are the most impoverished and marginalized population in the country, and the truth is that children attending reserve schools receive at least $3,000 less federal funding than students in other jurisdictions across the country.
"This differential treatment is an abdication of legal and moral responsibility by Canada. With the same educational opportunities as other Canadians, our children are just as capable of contributing to Canada's economic prosperity."
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