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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Election: First Nations education

Federal Election: First Nations call for a debate on the under-funding of their education

    GATINEAU, QC, Sept. 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Near 300 parents, children and
Chiefs from the First Nations communities in Quebec are going to the office
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to denounce the dramatic situation
caused by the chronic under-funding of First Nations education. They want
funding for First Nations education to become a priority of the federal
First Nations education is funded according to an old federal formula
which dates back to 1988 and has not been indexed to the cost of living since
1996. Consequently, the schools in the First Nations are not able to offer
services and salary conditions comparable to those offered by other Canadian
schools. Furthermore, this formula has not been revised to take account of new
developments and costs in education, while it was done in provincial schools
networks. There are important costs to be met, in such areas as operating
school libraries, offering sports and recreation activities, and keeping up to
date with new technological development. The funding formula does not take
account of any of these costs.
Five years ago, under increasing pressure from the First Nations, INAC
made the commitment to revise this outdated funding formula. But it has still
not been revised. This is the background which explains why our parents and
children, accompanied by the Chiefs of their communities, are here today at
the INAC Headquarters to stress that the situation has gone on far too long.
It is even more severe when we note that there are studies indicating a lack
of funding not just for the schools but also for supporting young people who
want to go on to post-secondary studies.
Gilbert Whiteduck, Chief of the Algonquin community of Kitigan Zibi, is
categorical in his remarks: "We no longer have to demonstrate the
under-funding of First Nations education. The First Nations have participated
in a large number of studies and consultations, all of which have confirmed
this under-funding and the importance of investing in education. But the
federal government, which is responsible for First Nations education, has
steadfastly refused to increase funding on the basis of these studies and
consultations." Chief Whiteduck feels that now is the time for the federal
government to finally respect its commitments and responsibilities.
Lise Bastien, Director of the First Nations Education Council (FNEC),
points out another important aspect: "Twice, the Minister for Indian Affairs
has threatened to attack the funding of First Nations organizations which hold
demonstrations to denounce the situation. The Chiefs of the FNEC member
communities do not take such a threat lightly. They refuse to be silent and to
accept conditions that compromise our right to receive an education of
comparable quality to the education received by other citizens."
Just over a year ago, the FNEC launched a campaign
( to build public awareness about the chronic
under-funding of First Nations education. Since then, others have joined us in
denouncing this situation, including Ontario's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
and the Premier of Quebec.

Ref.: McGuinty gets credit for making native people a priority - Nov 30,
2007 04:30 AM - Ian Urquhart (excerpt from an article about Michael Bryant,
Ontario's Minister of Aboriginal Affairs)

"The province could, for example, take over responsibility for on-reserve
schools from Ottawa, which does an abysmal job in this area. But reserve
schools now receive substantially less cash per student than schools in
the rest of the province, so the province would want Ottawa to top up the
funding before the transfer of responsibility took place."

Ref.: The provinces call on Ottawa to meet with the First Nations -
Canadian Press Edition of Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mr. Charest affirmed that funding of education in the First Nations would
be among the priority issues to be discussed at a future meeting. He
noted that in Canada, spending on the education of First Nations children
comes to less than half of the amount spent for the education of children
in the non-Aboriginal communities: "In itself, this number tells us a
great deal. There are several priorities, and we don't want to close the
door on this issue."
Free translation

Eva Ottawa, Grand Chief of the Atikamekw Nation, terms the chronic
under-funding of First Nations education as appalling: "This unacceptable
situation is simply a disgrace and a scandal. It is all the more inexcusable
when we note that Prime Minister Harper recently offered an apology on behalf
of Canada for the tragedy caused by the residential schools. The Chiefs will
assuredly use the calling of a federal election as an opportunity to demand
that all the political parties clearly indicate whether they intend to
continue this policy of keeping First Nations education in a state of chronic
under-funding or whether they intend to put an immediate end to that policy."

The FNEC is an association representing 22 communities of Quebec for more
than 20 years. Its main mission is to advocate the interests of First Nations
communities to offer better educational services to all First Nations
For more information on the FNEC or on our educational awareness
campaign, please visit our website at

For further information: Thanissa Lainé, Communication Officer, FNEC,
Cell.: (418) 932-4351; Raymond Sioui, Assistant Director, FNEC, Cell.: (418)
FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION COUNCIL - More on this organization
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My Canada includes rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Two Row Wampum Treaty

Two Row Wampum Treaty
"It is said that, each nation shall stay in their own vessels, and travel the river side by side. Further, it is said, that neither nation will try to steer the vessel of the other." This is a treaty among Indigenous Nations, and with Canada. This is the true nature of our relationships with Indigenous Nations of 'Kanata'.