Students call for action on National Aboriginal Day - Ending poverty and increasing access to higher education must be national priorities

    OTTAWA, June 21 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's college and university students
are marking National Aboriginal Day by renewing the call for improved living
conditions for Aboriginal peoples and greater federal funding for Aboriginal
students to attend post-secondary institutions.
    "This day is a reminder that the federal government has many unfulfilled
commitments to Aboriginal communities across Canada," said Mike White,
Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Caucus of the Canadian Federation of
Students. "The public apology for residential school survivors was a great
start but it is time to match words with action."
    Since 2000, thousands of eligible Aboriginal students have been shut out
of post-secondary education due to a lack of federal funding. Despite being
the fastest growing demographic in Canada, annual funding increases have been
capped at 2% for Indian and Northern Affairs Canada's (INAC) Post-Secondary
Student Support Program. Non-status First Nations and Métis students are not
eligible for any funding through INAC.
    "A post-secondary education provides important opportunities that are
currently unavailable to many Aboriginal people in Canada who are living in
poverty," said Katherine Giroux-Bougard, National Chairperson of the Canadian
Federation of Students. "While, the federal government has a responsibility to
ensure that post-secondary education is accessible for all Canadians, our
country's colonial history makes our obligations to Aboriginal peoples even
more immediate."
    "We are calling on the Harper government to realise that lifting the
out-dated funding limitations for Aboriginal students is an issue of social
justice and a smart economic strategy," said White.

    The Canadian Federation of Students is Canada's largest student
organisation, representing over one half million college and university
students at more than 80 campus students' unions across Canada.

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview: Katherine
Giroux-Bougard, National Chairperson, (613) 232-7394 x.23, (613) 261-7528;
Mike White, National Aboriginal Caucus Chairperson, (604) 316-4515

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