Cornwall Standard Freeholder: First Nations assembly will focus on education
First Nations assembly will focus on education ; AKWESASNE
The Cornwall Standard-Freeholder
Fri Aug 24 2012
Byline: KATHRYN BURNHAM
AKWESASNE -- The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne will be joining other chiefs from across the country this October to discuss an issue that has been on their radar for years, and high on the national agenda recently -- First Nations education.
The chiefs will gather Oct. 2-4 in Ottawa for the Chiefs Assembly on Education.
"At the Assembly of First Nations meeting last month in Toronto, a resolution was presented by the chiefs to call for an emergency session on First Nations education," said Mohawk Council of Akwesasne Grand Chief Mike Mitchell.
"This was voted on and passed as a priority by the chiefs in assembly as a priority for First Nations across the country to meet with high-level government authorities to discuss the purpose and objective of a new First Nations Education Act."
Increased funding for education received support from a private member's bill this winter, just three weeks after a report from the national panel on First Nations education called for a First Nations Education Act, national commission to support reform, creation of regional First Nations education organizations, and an accountability framework.
MCA leadership and members of the Ahkwesahsne Moh aw k Board of Education (AMBE) will be attending "to offer insight and look for direction on how to support a call for new legislation," Mitchell said.
"The Act would entail repealing sections of the Indian Act and replacing them with measures that will address the immediate need for quality education for First Nations in Canada."
AMBE, meanwhi le, is focused on improving student achievement outcomes, while managing funding concerns. They are concerned "about the uncertainty with funding over the long term due to the 2% cap and the failure of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada to address the gap between provincial funding and community-operated funding formula.
It is hard to develop short and long-term planning with such uncertaint ies," said Mitchell.
Each First Nation board of education is given funding based on the number of students in their community, to the tune of about $4,700 per student. Funding has been capped since 1996.
"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," said National Chief Shawn Atleo.
The Chiefs of Ontario released their own report on education this year, calling for full First Nation jurisdiction over education, an adjustment to the funding formula, and funding to develop language and culture curricula.
An Assembly of First Nations survey in 2011 found that of 450 First Nations communities, 47% need a new school, and of them 70% have ben waiting more than five 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," Atleo said.