Awareness-building Campaign on First Nations Education
NATIONAL WEEK OF ACTION ON EDUCATION
First Nations across Canada are rallying!
The National Week of Action for First Nations Education was held on September 19-24, 2010. The main objective of the National Week was to rally a maximum of First Nations communities throughout Canada to denounce the underfunding of education. More than One thousand people were gathered on Parliament Hill.
Response of the FNEC to the federal governments letter sent to the signers of the petition.
This is in follow-up to the response given by the federal government to the signers of the petition organized by the First Nations Education Council regarding the under-funding of education in the First Nations.
The Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada indicated in his reply that his department was continuing to implement its action plan for education and that the method for funding band schools was among the plan’s priority targets.
- But after five years of analyses, his department has all the information necessary for renewing the band school funding formula. This has not yet been done, which can only point to the Minister’s lack of desire to put his words into action.
- How can he explain the fact that all the provincial governments have been able to develop up-to-date funding formulas which can take account of new developments in education, but that the federal government cannot do the same thing?
- How can he explain the fact that the outdated funding formula for First Nations schools has not even been indexed to the cost of living since 1996?
- And how can he explain the fact that the provinces, through their reforms, can add new funding, while at the same time he is asking the First Nations to take account of these provincial reforms but is not considering new investments to make that possible?
The Minister claims that his department is committed to fund curriculum development and purchase of equipment for a project to establish a First Nations post-secondary institution.
- But this commitment was due solely to the pressure exerted at the First Nations Socio-Economic Forum in 2006. At this forum, INAC allocated $3.8 million to a university for the creation of a First Nations pavilion. The leftovers were all he had for the FNEC, i.e., just over $200,000 over a two-year period and, even worse, these leftovers were taken from an already-existing program and did not therefore represent new funding.
- In a directly-related matter, the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, in its February 2007 report on Aboriginal post-secondary education in Canada, confirmed something the First Nations have been denouncing for several years, namely the precarious and inadequate funding conditions imposed on First Nations post-secondary institutions throughout the country. We note here that the federal government has wholly ignored the recommendations in that report.
INAC has tried to reassure us by referring to its creation of several committees and initiatives bringing his department and the First Nations together as a means of showing its commitments towards and support of the communities in their efforts to implement long-term solutions.
- But how can the Minister explain the fact that since the ascent of his government to power, it has held back the funding for these very committees about which he has been talking for more than a year? And this has all taken place during the most crucial period for the renewal of authorities in education, which were due for April 2008 and which, as a departmental exercise, turned out to be a total failure.
In closing, we are convinced that the strategy of the federal government is focused entirely on maintaining the precarious funding conditions of the First Nations while claiming the contrary, in order to discredit the First Nations and promote the integration of our education systems into the provincial systems.
With these actions, the Canadian government is flagrantly violating the First Nations’ right to control their own education systems, as recognized by their treaties and by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which stipulates that integration cannot be forced on the First Nations with regard to education.
Thank you for your support!
Photos and videos of Parliament Hill Marathon
September 19, 2007 Ottawa
APNQL’s mission at ONU
New York, April 25th 2008 – An important Quebec First Nations delegation took part in the seventh Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in New York from April 21 to May 1, 2008, with the intention of denouncing the colonialist attitude of the Canadian government.
Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL
Lise Bastien, Director of FNEC
Terry Waboose, Deputy Grand Chief
Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Conrad Polson, Chief of Timiskaming First Nation
Steeve Mathias, Chief of Long Point First Nation
Jean Crowder, NPD Deputy
Nathalie Tremblay in interview
with the Chief of the Assembly of
First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.
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Radio Canada / Ottawa Gatineau
Some 300 First Nations people demonstrated in front of Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday afternoon to make federal MPs aware of the crisis situation that their communities are experiencing. They believe that their schools are underfunded and that this means that they cannot provide quality education for their children.
They are asking the government for more money to guarantee their children an education that is on par with that provided for other children in non-Aboriginal communities
“In just a few years from now, we will be faced with a situation of crisis proportions,” declared Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador. He believes that First Nations schools lag far behind, for example on technological matters, and that there is a lack of funding for their libraries.
First Nations schools receive their funding from the federal government, unlike non-native schools which are of course funded by the provinces. The funding formula used by Ottawa has not been changed since 1988, and was only indexed on a single occasion, in 1995.
Important Demonstration on Parliament Hill
OTTAWA MUST END ITS UNDERFUNDING OF FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION
Ottawa, September 19, 2007– Some 200 people took part earlier today in an important demonstration intended to denounce the underfunding of the First Nations education system, where schools (funded by the federal government) are severely disadvantaged compared to the majority of schools that are funded by provincial governments. “We know what challenges are important for our peoples; we know the issues and the problems; we also know the solutions. All that we are asking today is that the federal government change its funding policy for First Nations education so that it matches our realities and allows us to invest adequately in the future of our peoples,” stated Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL).
The Chiefs of a number of Canadian First Nations, including the Regional Chiefs of Ontario and Saskatchewan, took part in the gathering, which was immediately preceded by a 3km mini-marathon in the streets of Ottawa. Over seventy runners answered the call, including many young students, and there were more than a hundred spectators present from different communities in Quebec and beyond. “Running is good for your health. Today we ran for the health of our peoples, for our youth and for our future,” said Grand Chief Conrad Polson from the community of Timiskaming.
First Nations hope that original activities like this one will be able to convince the Conservative government to use the upcoming Speech from the Throne, as well as the new parliamentary session, to make clear its intention to change the funding formula that has been used by the federal government since 1988, and which has not even been indexed since 1996. “The formula is completely outdated and cannot meet current needs in education. How are we supposed to lower the dropout rate when there is no money for sports programs, vocational training or the running of school libraries?” asked the Director of the First Nations Education Council (FNEC), Ms. Lise Bastien.
Over the last few months, the FNEC and a number of Chiefs from Canada’s First Nations have been urging the federal government to look again at funding for First Nations schools. First Nations are able to count on the support of organizations such as Amnesty International, Kairos and the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) from the civil society, all of whom publicly demonstrated their support today.
The FNEC is a not-for-profit organization, which defends First Nations interests in education. For more information, please visit the Web site www.avenir-future.com.
Source: Thanissa Lainé, Information Officer
First Nations Education Council
Tel. (418) 842-7672
Wednesday September 19, 2007
First Nations in Ottawa demonstration
Quebec and Labrador’s First Nations demand Ottawa increase funding for their schools by 100%
The First Nations Education Council has been campaigning on this matter for a number of months and on Wednesday afternoon they were in Ottawa to hold a 3km run followed by a short demonstration.
Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, attended the rally and used the opportunity to demand that the Harper Government include the issue of First Nations education in the Throne Speech on October 16.
There are some 14,000 First Nations children in Quebec and Labrador and a funding formula (unchanged since 1987) gives their schools approximately $6,000 per child.
Lise Bastien is Director of the First Nations Education Council and she believes that this amount is completely insufficient for funding libraries, for example, or for providing teachers with a salary that is comparable to that offered in the Quebec public education system.
Chief Picard will be presenting this message to the new Indian Affairs Minister, Chuck Strahl, when he meets him for the first time on Thursday.