ETFO to work with First Nations leaders to support education, equity in Aboriginal communities

TORONTO, June 20, 2012 /CNW/ - In recognition of National Aboriginal Day on June 21, the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario (ETFO) announced it will develop a comprehensive campaign to support equity and social justice in Ontario Aboriginal communities.

"We will be working with First Nations leaders across the province to find appropriate ways in which to support Aboriginal communities particularly from the perspective of education, equality, and social justice," said ETFO President Sam Hammond. "While supporting First Nations teaching and education within isolate Aboriginal communities, we are looking to work with leaders in lobbying and advocacy on human rights issues."

"We cannot celebrate National Aboriginal Day without acknowledging that the need of Canada's Aboriginal peoples to obtain basic human rights is urgent and pressing. These rights include equity with other Canadians when it comes to education, health, and housing among other things."

"Both the federal and provincial governments must work with Aboriginal leaders in a meaningful way to solve the structural and institutional problems that have denied Aboriginal peoples their rights," added Hammond. "Along with a lack of adequate housing, clean water, and viable economic opportunities, education funding for Aboriginal students under the Indian Act is $2,000 less than for students in provincially funded public and Catholic systems. As Canadians, we cannot allow those inequities to continue."

It is a key priority for ETFO to support partnerships and initiatives that advance the rights and opportunities of Aboriginal children and youth. Since 2005, ETFO has supported the Lieutenant Governor's Summer Literacy Initiatives for isolated First Nations communities including most recently a campaign by Lieutenant Governor David Onley and Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy to secure e-readers for 5,000 children and youth in those communities. The Federation is a key sponsor of the Right To Play Youth Leadership Program in 35 First Nations communities, and has also donated to Shannen's Dream, which advocate for more support for First Nations schools including Attawapiskat where the campaign was begun by Shannen Koostachin. Two years ago, ETFO sponsored a northern school tour in 33 communities of Spirit Horse, a play by Ojibway playwright Drew Hayden Taylor that confronts Aboriginal stereotypes and racism.

The Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario represents 76,000 elementary public school teachers and education professionals across the province and is the largest teacher federation in Canada.

SOURCE Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

For further information:

Valerie Dugale, ETFO Media Relations: Cell: 416-948-0195

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Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario

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