OTTAWA, Aug. 21, 2012 – First Nation leaders from across Canada will be gathering in Ottawa/Gatineau from October 2-4, 2012 to participate in the Chiefs Assembly on Education. This three day event will be an opportunity for a full discussion on supporting First Nations education and identifying strategies to move forward in critical areas such as treaty rights, jurisdiction, funding and language.
“First Nations leaders established education as a key priority, with our ultimate goal being First Nations control of First Nations education,” said National Chief Atleo. “Our direction forward must address the Treaty right to education, First Nation jurisdiction over education, fairness and equity in funding and resources to support language and cultural instruction. First Nations are the youngest and fastest growing segment of the population. Their future is Canada’s future.”
This gathering was mandated by Chiefs during the recent AFN Annual General Assembly. It is being organized with no government support and will be completely self-sufficient.
The National Chief noted the federal government’s recent funding announcements for new schools in Pikangikum First Nation and Fort Severn First Nation in Ontario as well as funding to expand the high school gymnasium in Eskasoni Mi’kmaw Nation in Nova Scotia.
“I commend the perseverance and the leadership of these communities who have been working for many years to attain new schools and better infrastructure for their youth,” said AFN National Chief Atleo. “Our youth deserve fairness and opportunity and that includes safe and secure schools. These projects will also help local economies by creating employment and training opportunities for First Nations people. Investing in First Nations youth is a win for everyone and we must do more.”
In Budget 2012, Canada committed to explore new funding mechanisms for First Nations elementary and secondary education and promised $275M over three years to support First Nation education. First Nations have documented the underfunding of First Nations education for many years now, and are calling for fairness and equity to support success and unlock the full potential of First Nations people.
An AFN survey of more than 450 First Nation communities conducted in 2011 found that:
• 47% (or 219) First Nation communities indicated the need for a new school.
• Of those 219 communities, 70% have been waiting more than 5 years for a new school and 13% have been waiting for than 20 years.
“First Nation schools and infrastructures require predictable, adequate and stable funding, supported by strong First Nations systems, delivering a curriculum that respects our rights, our languages and identities and strengthens the fabric of our families and communities,” said National Chief Atleo.
More information on the Chiefs Assembly on Education will be provided in the coming weeks.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow us on Twitter @AFN_Updates, @AFN_Comms