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Sudbury rally focuses on proposed First Nations' education act

CBC News

Concerns about proposed federal legislation that would govern First Nations education drew people to a rally in Sudbury on Wednesday.

About 100 people rallied against the federal government's proposed First Nations Education Act.

They held a round dance in the middle of a busy downtown intersection just before the lunch hour.

Julia Pegahmagabow from Atikameksheng First Nation near Sudbury is studying to be a teacher. She said she is concerned the proposed legislation won't bring a better future for Aboriginal students.

“In those communities where there is a lot of inequity, in terms of funding for our schools and First Nations … we need to close that gap and have more positive outcomes for our students,” she said.

Under the draft legislation, band councils would be allowed to operate schools directly — as many already do — or purchase services from other school boards.

No consultation

But the federal government would set and enforce the standards for schools on reserves.

Magnetwan First Nation resident Lloyd Myke said the proposed act highlights a disconnect between federal government and First Nations.

“The education act that they are trying to impose of First Nations people is not for First Nations,” he said.

“There has not been any consultation of anything like that. And as First Nation communities we uphold our inherent rights and jurisdictions to create our own education system for our peoples.”

The bill does not lay out how funding will work, something the government says will be discussed later.

Final legislation for the First Nations Education Act is expected to be tabled in the coming weeks.

Just last week First Nation leaders in Ontario rejected the proposed First Nations Education Act and said they plan to build their own “education vision.”

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