Education group calls for federal parties to address Canadian Aboriginal post secondary funding gap and cap

    VANCOUVER, Oct. 2 /CNW/ - A coalition of Aboriginal and post secondary
organizations in BC is calling on the federal parties to make an election
commitment to address the funding gap for aboriginal post secondary training
and education, and to remove the cap on education funding at a time when the
number of Aboriginal learners in Canada is significantly increasing.
    The First Nations Leadership Council, the First Nations Education
Steering Committee, the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association, the
University Presidents' Council and BC Colleges and Institutes have come
together to challenge the federal parties to address the almost $5-million
annual funding gap in BC alone and to ensure quality, accessible and
affordable education for Canada's Aboriginal people.
    "At a time when all provinces are facing significant labour shortages and
many have identified the potential within our Aboriginal population to address
this shortage, the funding limits currently in place mean that many First
Nations students are either unable to cover their tuition and living expenses
or are simply unable to attend post secondary institutions at all," said Grand
Chief Edward John, a member of the First Nations Summit political executive.
"When students entering trades programs do not have access to any funding, it
shows that the antiquated policies of 1996 are no longer aligned with the
realities of today's workforce and educational requirements."
    "We have seen provinces like BC recognize these challenges within the
Canada-First Nations Education Jurisdiction Agreement, yet we still face a 27
percent difference between provincial K-12 funding and federal funding of the
Aboriginal school system," said Verna Minnabarriet of the Indigenous Adult and
Higher Learning Association. "What this means is that many Aboriginal students
face unnecessary obstacles in their pursuit of higher education."
    The coalition believes a firm commitment by the federal parties to
provide sufficient funding is essential to providing much-needed education and
employment opportunities, while putting the commitments that all parties have
made to ensure a stronger future for Canada's Aboriginal people into action.

For further information:

For further information: Richard Gilhooley, (604) 638-7451

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