First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)

First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)

October 11, 2013 18:23 ET

Canada's Proposed National First Nations Education Act is Not an Act of Reconciliation, FNESC tells UN Special Rapporteur

COAST SALISH TERRITORIES/WEST VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 11, 2013) - The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) met with James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Issues on October 10, raising concerns about the impact of the federal government's proposed First Nations Education Act. FNESC says that Canada's proposed First Nations Education Act is not an act of reconciliation.

The federal government has been advancing its plans for the Act despite strong opposition from First Nations leaders across Canada, as well as serious concerns expressed by the Canadian School Boards Association (CSBA), BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF), and BC School Trustees Association (BCSTA).

"In BC, we have a First Nations-controlled, community-based education system with accountability measures in place, and it is a system that has been formally recognized by Canada and the Province. Our system has accountability standards, culture and language-specific curriculum, and certification for our First Nations schools," said Tyrone McNeil, FNESC President.

McNeil also points out that the Act fails to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding treaty, as well as the endorsed Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognizes the rights of Indigenous families and communities to establish and control their education systems and institutions providing education in their own languages, in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.

FNESC has repeatedly called on the federal government to set aside its plans for legislation and take appropriate measures to fulfill its legal duties of consultation and accommodation to First Nations. In the spirit of reconciliation, FNESC also urges Canada to work respectfully with First Nations to co-develop and co-author any legislation or policy related to First Nations education, building upon rather than displacing existing agreements and relationships. Only through true partnership and a meaningful recognition of First Nations' rights to control First Nations education can real progress be achieved. First Nations children deserve no less.

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