NAN calls for increased capital spending for First Nation schools

    THUNDER BAY, ON, May 26 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand
Chief Terry Waboose is calling for action following yesterday's release by the
Parliamentary Budget Office of its report on Funding Requirement of First
Nations Schools in Canada.
    "When we meet with government officials to address the 12 to 15 year back
log for schools in our territory, we are often told there are no resources to
build new schools," Waboose said. "Now, with the release of this report, we
learn this is contrary to what we have been told: we now know that in addition
to this program being underfunded, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has been
mismanaging the funding."
    NAN is calling on the federal Government for increased accountability and
investments on capital and infrastructure for First Nations Schools.

    Key findings in the report include:

    -   Starting in 2003, more than $100 million was reallocated from school
        projects over a five-year period
    -   Indian and Northern Affairs Canada does not expend all the funding
        allocated for education in a given year
    -   In calculating capital expenditures for the 2009/2019 fiscal year,
        Indian and Northern Affairs Canada budgeted its spending at
        $118 million. However, the parliamentary budget officer calculates
        that $287 million is required to meet the need
    -   Little or no data collected from First Nations issues used
    -   Indian and Northern Affairs Canada lacks a well defined capital
        budget methodology

    "NAN's education infrastructure is in crisis. There are communities
without schools in the NAN territory, and the high ratio of students being
educated in over-crowded and unsafe schools is unacceptable," Waboose said,
adding that education is a treaty right for First Nations and that Indian
Affairs shouldn't view funding for education as 'discretionary.' "First
Nations are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. We need to
ensure they are equipped with the skills and education to acquire gainful
employment. Our children's success will be reflected in Canada's social and
economic wellbeing."
    Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization
representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and the Ontario
portion of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.

For further information:

For further information: Joyce Hunter, A/Director of Communications -
Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4952 or (807) 472-5638 mobile

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