COAST SALISH TERRITORIES/WEST VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Nov. 1, 2013) - The Government of Canada's new Proposal for a Bill on First Nations Education is contrary to First Nations' education goals in BC and fails to preserve and support the well-regarded BC First Nations Education System.
First Nations in BC have worked collectively for over 20 years to create a strong, responsive BC First Nations Education System that is accountable and community-based. This is an existing System supported by First Nations, which First Nations seek to build upon through continued partnership with the Governments of Canada and British Columbia.
"The System we have worked so hard to establish is now under threat by Canada's current Proposal for legislation," stated Tyrone McNeil, President of the First Nations Education Steering Committee. He continued, "We have provided comprehensive input and recommendations based on our regional perspective to the federal government at every step of this process, yet none of it is reflected in the proposed Bill." McNeil continued, "Instead of ensuring adequate needs-based funding and appropriate policy support for the BC First Nations Education System and our schools, Ottawa aims to add expensive layers of bureaucracy and federal control and oversight, which all run contrary to First Nations jurisdiction."
McNeil added, "Canada's Proposal is inherently colonial and fundamentally represents a punitive approach to First Nations education. The Government is blaming First Nations for a problem not of our making." He continued, "It is Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's system that is 'broken' as a result of misguided colonial policy and chronic underfunding. Our work in BC is focused on getting out of this broken framework and operating under our own standards, models and solutions that meet our students' and communities' needs and are based on our inherent rights."
"The principle of First Nations control of the education of our children is critical for improving the success rate and education outcomes of our learners and, so, First Nations have no choice but to call for the proposed Bill to be set aside. It simply does not address our needs and will undermine First Nations control of First Nations education." McNeil concluded, "We are disappointed Canada chose not to work with First Nations in partnership to co-develop mutually agreeable education legislation."
The First Nations Education Steering Committee will be working with First Nations over the coming weeks to consider the implications of the Proposal and determine next steps for protecting the BC First Nations Education System.