THUNDER BAY, ON, March 18 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose has rejected a recent report that recommends stripping First Nations of local control over the Post-Secondary School Support Program (PSSSP) for their students.
Free to Learn: Giving Aboriginal Youth Control over Their Post-Secondary Education, was released March 15, 2010 by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute for Public Policy.
"We reject this report's recommendation that control over post-secondary funding be taken away from us," said Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose, who holds the education portfolio. "In fact, there is a strong series of documentation that demonstrates the success and best practices of First Nations' administration in the delivery of post-secondary funding."
Studies including Focusing Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's Post Secondary Education Program: Targets and Impacts (2009 report for the Assembly of First Nations) and No Higher Priority: Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education in Canada, a Report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (2007), support NAN's position that control over post-secondary school funding should remain with First Nations and that the current two per cent funding cap on education should be removed.
"Finger-pointing at First Nations over the delivery of the PSSSP ignores the chronic underfunding of First Nations education, which is the real issue that needs to be addressed by the Government of Canada," said Waboose, who has repeatedly called for increased federal funding for First Nations education. "Education is a treaty right for NAN First Nations, and we are adamant that post-secondary funding must remain under our administration and control."
The Post-Secondary Student Support Program has been in place since the early 1970s and is administered by individual First Nations funded through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) regional offices. Funding is allocated based on National Program Guidelines established by INAC.
The PSSSP currently provides more than $300 million in non-repayable financial aid for First Nation students attending colleges and universities. Funding covers the costs of tuition, books, supplies, limited travel and partial living allowances for students and their dependents as well as tutorial, guidance and counseling services.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario portions of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.
SOURCE NISHNAWBE ASKI NATION
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