Thursday, July 24, 2014
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Letter: Speaking out against the First Nations Education Act

The Gazette (Montreal)

First Nations communities have demonstrated their resolve to reject the federal government`s proposals found in Bill C-33. In addition to their territorial rights being under siege, they now face the imminent danger of having the government take control of the education of their children.

The federal government holds the trump card, giving it the power to take over Native education if curriculum standards have not been met. Yet, on-reserve schools receive approximately 30 per cent less funding than off-reserve schools in the rest of Canada. Instead of determining what schools would require in order to be successful and stem the high dropout rate of the school population, the federal government has taken a paternalistic approach with respect to Native educational issues. It has systematically ignored the voices of those at the grassroots level.

Confederacy representatives, who have lent their voices to indicate the collective discontent, have been referred to as “rogue chiefs” `by Indian Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt. The so-called financial fix will begin in 2016, after the next federal election, while the funding issues are needed now for many Native communities.

One wonders whether the federal government’s ultimate goal is to undermine the progress that First Nations educators have made, despite the trauma endured by Natives in residential schools. Today, the Native population will not be silenced.

Cameron Gray

Beaconsfield

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