First Nations Education Council

First Nations Education Council
Nishnawbe Aski Nation

Nishnawbe Aski Nation
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN)

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN)
Cardinal Communication

December 05, 2011 13:30 ET

First Nations Regional Education Organizations Present a Joint Report to the National Chief and AFN Executive

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Dec. 5, 2011) - Today, the First Nations Education Council (FNEC - Quebec), the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN - Saskatchewan) and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN - Ontario) have presented a joint report on First Nations education to the Assembly of First Nations' (AFN) National Chief and Executive. This document, entitled Report on Priority Actions in View of Improving First Nations Education, identifies specific measures that are necessary to improve educational programs and services intended for First Nations youth.

The best way for the FNEC, FSIN and NAN Chiefs to contribute to the improvement of their youth's education was to present a report, independent from the one produced by the National Panel on Elementary and Secondary Education created by the AFN and the federal government. There are already many reference documents that have been written over the years, and on which there is a consensus among First Nations concerning the means to secure their rights and improve First Nations education.

The Chiefs have specific expectations in presenting their independent report. They want the federal government to stop ignoring the positions that First Nations have already expressed on multiple occasions. The report being presented is based, not only on reports that the three organizations have already produced, but also on national and international documents on which there is a consensus.

Therefore, an entire section of the report deals with the priority measures necessary for improving education and emphasizes that the policy paper First Nations Control of First Nations Education (2010) must remain the number one reference in this respect. This paper, supported by the AFN Chiefs, is an updated version of the 1972 document (Indian Control of Indian Education), which was officially recognized by the Canadian government, but that has not yet been the subject of any real action.

In the independent report, the regional organizations make it clear that "Canada must provide adequate funding to First Nations educational systems to secure and protect First Nations individuals' right to quality education. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has observed that under international law, states have an 'immediate obligation' to ensure that the right to education 'will be exercised without discrimination of any kind'".

Therefore, the organizations conclude that federal and provincial governments must understand and respect the legal rights of First Nations, in particular their inherent and treaty rights, and their rights provided for under international law. Governments must absolutely respect Article 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which recognizes First Nations right to self-determination and by virtue of that right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. As such, the creation of the National Panel by the federal government is a process that does not meet this criterion.

Follow-up to the recommendations

Bear in mind that, in a letter dated August 17, 2011 sent to all Chiefs, National Chief Atleo already indicated that independent initiatives outside of the National Panel's consultations would be welcomed as positive contributions. The three organizations now hope that the Government of Canada will follow up on their recommendations.

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