Canada | Education | Opinion

Shawn Atleo: First Nations gain control over educational system

Shawn Atleo, the chief of the Assembly of First Nations, explains why he supports the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act despite opposition from Native leaders across Canada:
Now it is time for all First Nations to closely review and analyze the bill based on our key principles. The AFN is preparing its own detailed analysis that we will share with First Nations. But each nation needs to determine for themselves if this bill meets their needs.

We do see movement. The new bill has significant new funding attached to it that is now locked into the federal budget — a total of $1.9 billion.

In addition, First Nations have managed to convince the government to eliminate the regressive 2 per cent cap on funding growth that has held back our students. There is now a guaranteed growth rate of 4.5 per cent annually that will keep pace with comparable growth rates in all other jurisdictions.

There is full support for First Nations languages and cultures, and the opportunity to ensure land-based traditional teachings as part of curriculum.

The issue of unilateral federal oversight must be addressed. The Minister of Aboriginal Affairs has offered to enter into a political protocol to consider the implementation and terms of reference for a joint council. The AFN executive and the Chiefs Committee on Education will have to carefully consider this matter.

We know that First Nations want the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs out of our classrooms, out of our schools and, frankly, out of our lives. Any oversight mechanism such as a joint council to oversee implementation of the bill must be shaped and directed by First Nations.

Get the Story:
Shawn Atleo: First Nations Education Act 'must act as a bridge' (CBC 4/14

Another Opinion:
Derek Nepinak: New First Nations Education Act an 'illusion of control' (CBC 4/11)

Also Today:
Shawn Atleo under fire for support of Conservative native-education measures (The Globe and Mail 4/10)

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