Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

November 26, 2008 16:41 ET

Statement by The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 26, 2008) - The Honourable Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians today issued the following statement regarding the ongoing discussions with the community of Attawapiskat about the desire for a new elementary school:

"There's no question that the situation facing students and their families in Attawapiskat is an important one. That is why my officials have been working with the community to find a long term solution to secure a permanent elementary school at Attawapiskat.

This week INAC officials met with the community and First Nation leaders where a plan to demolish the old school was agreed upon. The First Nation is working with a contractor to tear down J.R. Nakogee School, allowing for full remediation of the contaminated site. The demolition of the closed elementary school is nearing reality and is expected to take place soon.

The Government of Canada has ensured students have a safe place to learn. Since the closure of the elementary school, more than $5 million for temporary classrooms and the expansion of the community's high school was provided. In addition, since 2001, almost $8 million (approximately $1 million per year) for infrastructure upkeep and repairs was provided.

I understand that the school will be part of the discussion at today's Attawapiskat Human Rights Youth Forum, which I am pleased to see taking place. Our government, as witnessed with the passage of an Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act, is strongly committed to protecting the human rights of all Canadians.

Improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal people is a shared responsibility in which governments, communities, educators, families and students all have a role to play in achieving real results. In the case of Attawapiskat, we remain committed to working with the community to find long term solutions to secure a permanent elementary school and ensure students are provided with the educational opportunities for their success. A working group made up of representatives from the Attawapiskat First Nation and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada now meets to develop funding options.

Canada is committed to improving education for First Nations students. As referenced in the Speech From the Throne, our approach includes tripartite partnerships with provinces and First Nations communities. Improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal people is a shared responsibility in which governments, communities, educators, families and students all have a role to play in achieving real results.

Chuck Strahl

Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Metis and Non-Status Indians

Contact Information

  • Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
    Nina Chiarelli
    Press Secretary
    819-997-0002
    or
    INAC Media Relations
    819-953-1160
    www.ainc-inac.gc.ca/