Ontario Regional Chief calls on the federal government to work with First Nations to resolve education crisis

    TORONTO, Oct. 11 /CNW/ - "The current education crisis is resulting in
First Nation children being forced to accept a lower standard of education
than children in mainstream schools. This is blatantly discriminatory and
cannot be justified in a country that just announced a $13.8 billion dollar
surplus" stated Ontario Regional Chief Angus Toulouse.
    "First Nation leaders and First Nation parents will not stand idly by
while our children's education is not a priority for the federal government.
We will not tolerate our children being left behind due to continued
government inaction" said the Regional Chief. First Nation communities are
forced to administer Band Operated schools with a 20 year old funding formula
which was designed to meet education needs in the 1980's. First Nation schools
are drastically under-funded as a direct result of a 2% cap on expenditure
growth which has been in place since 1996. As a result, First Nation schools
receive approximately half of the resources to operate in comparison to
provincial schools. "When one considers those numbers it should be no surprise
that the federal Auditor General cites a 28 year gap in educational attainment
between our children and non-native children" said the Regional Chief.
    Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is required to approach the
federal Treasury Board in order to ensure that their spending authority for
Band Operated schools is renewed. There have been years of joint work between
INAC and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) which clearly identified the
critical need to revise and increase the funding for Band operated schools.
Despite these years of research and joint work, INAC will not be seeking any
additional resources for our First Nation schools.
    INAC inaction has forced people to take more extreme measures to ensure
that the public is aware of this crisis. Currently First Nation citizens have
organized a peaceful demonstration outside INAC's Thunder Bay Regional Office
in order to bring attention to this critical issue. "I commend our people for
their efforts to bring the seriousness of this situation to light. It is
disgraceful that our repeated advocacy efforts have fallen on deaf ears" said
Regional Chief Toulouse.
    "How many times do First Nations leaders and advocates have to say that
there are consequences to inaction, and that real investment is needed now to
reap the benefits in the future? If our children fail, Canada fails. Our
success is Canada's success" stated Regional Chief Toulouse. The Regional
Chief emphasized that the government must work together with First Nations to
ensure that quality education is available for all children. "Our children are
our most sacred gift and we are committed to protecting their future and doing
the best we can to give them the opportunities they need to succeed" said the
Regional Chief.

For further information:

For further information: Pam Hunter, Policy Advisor, (416) 597-1266 or
(613) 203-3233

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Chiefs of Ontario

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