$0 for Sports and Recreation
Awareness-building Campaign on First Nations Education
Among First Nations, there is a greater tendency to be overweight and the frequency of diabetes is 2.7 times higher than in the rest of the population.1 To reduce the risk of being overweight and the health problems that go with it, physical activity is a highly effective solution. It can also play a role as regards mental health – and in a context where suicide among First Nations is three times higher than in the rest of the population, this is no small matter.
“The federal government has direct responsibility for factors that affect the health status of First Nations and Inuit children” stated a report published by the Standing Committee on Health in March 2007.2 The report reveals that it is difficult to confirm that federal funds earmarked for First Nations actually found their way to where they were supposed to go. It also stresses the indifference of INAC on this issue “Also, while Sport Canada has committed to build capacity for sport and recreation in the broader Aboriginal population, Health Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada have not partnered in this endeavour by supporting the community health promotion or the school physical education components.”
As part of a series of measures designed to increase the participation of the general public in physical, recreational and sporting activities, MELS has, since 2004, increased to two hours the amount of time given over to physical education and health. “It is essential that young people develop good lifestyle habits as soon as possible and, to this end, we are keen to encourage the practice of physical activity”. Québec City, Wednesday February 26, 2003 – Minister of State for Education and Employment, Mr. Sylvain Simard.
Numerous studies have shown that good physical health is one of the most important contributory factors in learning skills. Despite evidence of the benefits of activity on academic success and the seriousness of health problems observed, the Band Schools Funding Formla does not take the importance of sports and recreation into account. The band school should be able to organize activities that are targeted to the needs of First Nations students. What is more, the recognition of the role of the school in the promotion and organization of physical activities and recreation would make it possible to maximize school infrastructure and all the community would benefit.
2Healthy Weights for Healthy Kids, Standing Committee on Health, March 2007