First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)

First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)

November 22, 2013 06:00 ET

First Nations Resolved to Protect BC First Nations Education System

COAST SALISH TERRITORIES/VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Nov. 22, 2013) - Approximately 250 BC First Nations delegates gathered on November 19, 2013, to discuss the Government of Canada's Proposal for a Bill on First Nations Education, released October 2013. The Bill, aimed at "reforming" education for First Nations children, represents a threat to the comprehensive and relevant BC First Nations Education System, which is accountable and community-based.

The First Nations delegates from around the province, including leadership and community education personnel, expressed their unequivocal support for the important work already well under way in BC, which is starting to have positive education outcomes for our children. First Nations affirmed the priority of continuing this upward trend of improving the educational outcomes of First Nations children and youth through the continued advancement and enhancement of First Nations control of First Nations education.

Tyrone McNeil, President, First Nations Education Steering Committee, remarked, "Yesterday's discussion was an important moment for First Nations education in BC." He continued, "Our communities demonstrated their solid commitment to education and to the decades of hard, collective work of our First Nations to develop our own System, based on our own values, priorities and high standards."

While the Government of Canada claims it has heard what First Nations in BC have to say, the fact is that the successive documents developed and released by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) framing its vision of legislation have fundamentally failed to respond to the many legitimate issues and concerns raised by First Nations in BC. Critically, the federal proposal lacks a clear commitment to sustained and needs-based funding, including for language, culture and technology which are underlying values and features that make the BC First Nations Education System relevant and unique.

"We are at a critical point," stated McNeil, "As our leaders expressed during Reconciliation Week in September 2013, we can either proceed in true government-to-government partnership, consistent with the constitutional underpinnings of the Crown-First Nations relations, or we can allow the Government to repeat mistakes of the past." McNeil continued, "For First Nations, the answer is obvious. To achieve the promise of reconciliation in the Constitution Act, to overcome the legacy of the residential school system, and to ensure we do not fail another generation of our children, we must do the hard work of coming up with a mutual plan to support First Nations control of First Nations education. First Nations want to resume responsibility for educating our kids. We have been developing the capacity and expertise and have been developing local solutions. What we need from Canada is a commitment to a partnership with us to achieve this goal."

First Nations will continue their deliberations on the proposed Bill over the coming weeks at regularly scheduled Chiefs' Assemblies.

Contact Information

  • First Nations Education Steering Committee
    Irma Arkus
    Communications Manager
    (604) 866-3409 or Toll Free: 1-877-422-3672