Friday, September 19, 2014
Text Size

Education system failing Canada’s First Nations

Opinion Editorial

“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”

Right slogan, wrong country.

The advertising phrase that defined the 1970s push to fund the United Negro College Fund in the U.S. could just as well apply now to native education in Canada.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. But so, too, is effort and taxpayer money that goes into education that’s often poorly provided or sandbagged by the nation’s highest dropout rates.

That’s the troubling equation the federal government and Canada’s First Nations must now face up to, after walking away – at least for now – from a major deal to improve native education.

Just three months ago, First Nations declared victory as Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the new agreement both sides said signalled a “new era” in relations between the two. It included more First Nations control over the on-reserve system and a promised $1.25 billion over three years starting in 2016. Ottawa also pledged an additional $700 million over seven years, starting in 2015, for infrastructure.

Ottawa has now shelved the First Nations Control of First Nations Act, after Shawn Atleo resigned as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations. While Atleo was there in February to announce the deal, many First Nations leaders balked at linking the new funding to standards set by Ottawa.

The immediate losers are young aboriginals, the nation’s fastest-growing demographic, for whom education remains the best bet to escape the grinding poverty of the reserve system.

Reasonable Canadians get that people are entitled to some control over their local schools. That’s what school boards and elected trustees are all about.

But Canadians also understand schooling isn’t a democracy, that standards – of curriculum expectations, student achievement and spending accountability – must also be met. If not, the education systems of the provinces and territories would be a disorganized mess of public and separate schools, home-schoolers and charter schools.

With more than 600 First Nations in Canada, widespread agreement on any deal to improve aboriginal education is unlikely. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t proceed.

Time – which is not batting for either side in this case – is also wasting away.

– Sun Media

Whatever Trevor

Dis is Trevor.

Education & Training

Blast from the past: FP archive

When is Consultation, Consultation?

Ovide Mercredi

National Chief – AFN

During a Treaty Roundtable meeting of the Alberta Chiefs, I took note of a federal government document outlining their strategy to define and ultimately impose their own form of self-government. Read more...

Letting go of residential schools

by Gilbert Oskaboose, Nov 1993 First Perspective

There is a lot of "unfinished business" in Indian Country. Garbage that we as a people have never really dealt with. Chief among them is the whole issue of those infamous residential schools and their impact on people. Read more...


obidiah picture

ANALYSIS - Bill Gallagher

gallagher picture

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit

Under the Northern Sky by Xavier Kataquapit


First Nations Cultural Interpreter PM – 02 Riding Mountain National Park Seasonal Indeterminate

(May to October) From $54,543 to $58,764

Closing Sept. 19, 2014

Read More

Regional Media Officer– Temp (Until Nov 2015) –F/T Position

Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition / NDP Research Office

Location:131 Queen Street, Suite 10-02, Ottawa, ON


Communicate regularly with regional media outlets (community newspapers, radio stations, student media, ethnic media, etc.) to propose ideas for interviews and opinion content Read more...

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Aboriginal Workforce Report

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released a report that highlights initiatives to improve the workforce participation of Aboriginal peoples. 

Opportunity Found: Improving the Participation of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s Workforce (December 2013)  

click image to download report

Tue Sep 23 @ 3:00PM - 04:15PM
FNHMA National Conference 2014
Sun Oct 05 @ 9:00AM - 05:00PM
INIHKD & Manitoba NEAHR Conference 2014


September 2014
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 1 2 3 4

Current Video

RIP Percy Tuesday


Thanks to Althea Guiboche for allowing The First Perspective to share her video taken at the Manitowapow book launch at McNally Robinson. 

Percey sings Freddy Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" and people join in to harmonize. 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO): The Washington Redskins