Ministers of Education open CMEC Summit on Aboriginal Education

    SASKATOON, Feb. 24 /CNW/ - An historic summit on Aboriginal education,
organized by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), was opened
today by the Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Chair of CMEC and Minister of Education
for New Brunswick, the Honourable Ken Krawetz, Deputy Premier and Minister of
Education for Saskatchewan and the Honourable Rob Norris, Minister of Advanced
Education, Employment and Labour for Saskatchewan.
    During the two-day summit, ministers of education, national and regional
Aboriginal organizations, and representatives of the federal government will
discuss strengthening Aboriginal successes in education. Participants will put
forward approaches for working toward eliminating the achievement gaps between
First Nations, Métis, and Inuit learners and non-Aboriginal students. Some of
the topics that will help frame their discussion include:

    -   Investments that lead to student success
    -   Using information to drive decisions on improvement
    -   Partnership toward improved outcomes - coordinating efforts
    -   Understanding the complexity and effect of socioeconomic conditions
        on student success

    "As put forward in our joint declaration Learn Canada 2020, ministers of
education recognize the direct link between a well-educated population and a
socially progressive, sustainable society," said Minister Lamrock. "Aboriginal
success in education is one of our key priorities in reaching this goal and
this summit will facilitate a national dialogue on the issue."
    "Saskatchewan is proud to host the summit and continue to play a
leadership role with regard to CMEC's commitment to Aboriginal education.
Together with our First Nations, Métis, and Inuit partners, we need to
continue to strengthen our relationships and build on our successes to make a
significant impact in our children's life-long learning journey," said Deputy
Premier Krawetz.
    The number of Aboriginal young people is rapidly increasing, with an
expectation that in the next 15 to 20 years, Aboriginal students will
represent over 25 per cent of the elementary student population in some
provinces and territories. There have been many gains in Aboriginal education
across provinces and territories in recent years. However, more needs to be
done to raise graduation rates.
    "Eliminating the gap between Aboriginal learners and non-Aboriginal
learners is an economic and ethical imperative. The future growth and
prosperity of all provinces and territories is linked to the success of
Aboriginal peoples," concluded Minister Norris.

    CMEC is an intergovernmental body composed of the ministers responsible
for elementary-secondary and advanced education from the provinces and
territories. Through CMEC, ministers share information and undertake projects
in areas of mutual interest and concern.


    Looking at successes across Canada

    Here are some examples of areas where jurisdictions are already working
to increase Aboriginal success in education.

    Investments that lead to student success

    In January 2007, the Ontario government launched Ontario's new Aboriginal
Education Strategy. The strategy will help support learning and achievement
for Aboriginal students. As part of the strategy, Ontario's targeted funding
for Aboriginal education in elementary and secondary schools has gone from $3
million in 2002-03 to $25 million in 2008-09. This includes support for Native
Language programs, Native Studies courses and support programs that assist
Aboriginal students. Ontario has also introduced a number of initiatives to
ensure Aboriginal learners continue to have access to the training, programs,
and opportunities they need to succeed and reach their full postsecondary
academic potential.

    Nova Scotia
    The Mi'kmaq Education Agreement has just been signed between Mi'kmaw
Kina'matnewey (MK) and the Department of Education. This agreement provides a
uniform tuition rate, a financial arrangement between the department and MK,
and an enhancements piece designed to address the education gap. This
agreement is a first for a provincial government.

    Using information to drive decisions on improvement

    Publicly funded postsecondary institutions in Alberta have been
collecting enrolment information on Aboriginal students since 2004-05. This
data collection assists institutions with tracking the number of applicants
and enrolment. Alberta has developed the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit
(FNMI) Education Policy Framework to guide the department's priority objective
of improving educational opportunities for Aboriginal learners. The Alberta
Initiative for School Improvement has also led to the creation of 16 projects
aimed exclusively at improving FNMI learner outcomes. Alberta was also the
first jurisdiction to develop an Aboriginal Studies program in collaboration
with elders and FNMI educators.

    British Columbia
    British Columbia has developed an extensive K-12 data collection and
reporting system, which has been operating for the past nine years and is used
extensively by school districts and education partners. The BC Electronic
Student Information System (BCESIS) allows for real-time tracking of student
data in public schools, and discussions are underway regarding the possibility
and desirability of extending BCESIS for use in band schools.

    Saskatchewan's Student Data System (SDS) is an online, real-time tool
that schools can use to monitor students' enrolment and movement from school
to school. It allows principals to focus follow-up efforts on students who
have not successfully transitioned to another school or work.

    Partnership toward improved outcomes - coordinating efforts efficiently

    Prince Edward Island
    A partnership agreement has been signed between the Mi'Kmaq Confederacy
of Prince Edward Island, the provincial government, and the federal
government. Work has begun on outlining the terms of reference for education.

    Understanding the complexity and effect of socio-economic conditions on
    student success

    Manitoba has a network of Adult Learning Centres (ALCs) that provide
tuition-free programming for adults to obtain secondary education courses and
credentials (high school diploma) required to pursue further education and

    New Brunswick
    New Brunswick has become the first province in Canada to take a new
funding approach to First Nations education in an effort to close the
achievement gap between First Nations and non First Nations students. Under
the new agreements being signed with First Nations in New Brunswick, 50
percent of the fees paid by First Nations students attending public schools
will be reinvested in the school district to be specifically targeted to First
Nations education initiatives. In addition, for the first time, First Nations
representatives will have a say in how the money is spent. Currently, fees go
into general revenue.

    Newfoundland and Labrador
    The Department of Education provides curriculum development support to
the Innu and Mi'kmaq schools to build culturally relevant resources and
student materials in Innu-aimun and Mik'maq languages. Culturally relevant
literacy curriculum is under development to better address literacy challenges
in Aboriginal communities.

    Northwest Territories
    Funding is being provided to support Aurora College for resources and
training for NWT Aboriginal Language and Cultural Instructors, Community-Based
Teacher Education Programs, and the development of B.Ed. program for
NWT-trained teachers.

    The Nunavut government provides for Aboriginal language certificates,
teacher education programs, Masters in Education programs, and an Education
Leadership Program. Nunavut is rewriting its K-12 curriculum to reflect the
Inuit culture. Legislation has also been passed for the right to education in
the Inuit languages.

    The Kativik School Board, in collaboration with the Ministry of
Education, Recreation and Sports elaborated a framework for the development of
an Inuit Program adapted to the specific education needs in Nunavik. The
ministry also works with the First Nations Education Council on an issues
table (MELS-CEPN).

    The First Nations Programs and Partnerships Unit of the Public Schools
Branch, in partnership with Yukon First Nations, is developing curriculum
materials that will provide all Yukon students with textbooks focused on Yukon
First Nation content and perspectives, which includes history, culture, and

For further information:

For further information: Tamara Davis, Coordinator, Communications,
Cell: (416) 804-6548, Tel.: (416) 962-8100, ext. 241, E-mail:,
Web site:

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