TORONTO, Feb. 28, 2012 /CNW/ - A non-binding NDP motion calling for funding to put First Nations schools on equal footing with provincial schools passed with all party support in the House of Commons yesterday demonstrating the full support of Parliament to make First Nations education and on-reserve schools a priority in the upcoming federal budget.
"This motion is a positive step forward. It shows that parliamentarians recognize that the funding allocated for First Nations education has been woefully inadequate for many, many years and that this requires immediate redress. The underfunding of education for First Nations learners has created an unacceptable gap in educational outcomes for First Nations peoples in comparison to the general Canadian population. It is clear that the time has come to address what is a glaring example of inequality," stated Regional Chief Angus Toulouse.
The NDP motion was based on "Shannen's Dream". In 2008, the late Shannen Koostachin, of the Attawapiskat First Nation, started a campaign to end the funding discrimination experienced by First Nation school children. She used social media to start a campaign to improve education services in her community following the closure of their school in 2000 due to soil contamination from a fuel spill. Tragically, Shannen was killed in a car accident in 2010 at the age of 15. Chelsea Edwards, 16, also of the Attawapiskat First Nation, and many other First Nation and non-First Nation youth have been working diligently to carry on "Shannen's Dream".
"The combined efforts of many, most especially the late Shannen Koostachin, has built widespread support for finally addressing the discrimination in funding for First Nations education. The motion provides additional support along with several reports and studies that have clearly demonstrated that governments must act now to provide equal levels of funding in order that First Nations learners are provided with a quality education and equality of opportunity," said Regional Chief Toulouse.
The Chiefs of Ontario (COO) is a coordinating body for the 133 First Nations located within the boundaries of the Province of Ontario.
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