First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)

First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC)
First Nations Schools Association (FNSA)

First Nations Schools Association (FNSA)

October 17, 2013 19:34 ET

Speech From the Throne Fails to Address Concerns About First Nations Education Act

COAST SALISH TERRITORIES/WEST VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Oct. 17, 2013) - The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and the First Nations Schools Association (FNSA) are disappointed that yesterday's Speech from the Throne failed to address growing concerns regarding the Government of Canada's plan to implement a First Nations Education Act by September 2014.

The Speech from the Throne indicated Canada "will continue working with First Nations to develop stronger, more effective, and more accountable on-reserve education systems." However, First Nations across Canada, British Columbia included, have serious concerns about the proposed legislation.

"Despite our best efforts to engage this government in meaningful consultations, they still refuse to acknowledge the rising discontent among First Nations regarding plans to have Ottawa infringe on our education rights," said Tyrone McNeil, President of FNESC. "We remain committed to working in partnership with the Government of Canada, but we cannot sit back and have legislation forced on us that does not allow us to control the education of our children."

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has outlined some of its proposals for a First Nations Education Act that will be enforced across all provinces and territories - none of which recognize Canada's commitment to established education agreements in British Columbia. Canada has also made no clear references to the funding that is needed to support First Nations education, notably for language, culture and technology.

"We are proud of the relevant and accountable First Nations Education System that we have created in British Columbia," said Greg Louie, FNSA President. "This is an existing system, built upon high standards, that continues to be driven by our communities. What we need is a commitment to adequate and sustained funding, not the imposition of standards by the Government of Canada."

James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, has concluded his visit to Canada. Anaya noted the deep concerns he heard from First Nations representatives across the country, who consistently said that the process for developing the new Act for First Nations education has not included nor responded to First Nations perspectives. In a public statement, Mr. Anaya urges Canada "not to rush forward with this legislation, but to re-initiate discussions with aboriginal leaders to develop a process, and ultimately a bill, that addresses aboriginal concerns and incorporates aboriginal viewpoints on this fundamental issue."

Mr. McNeil, President of FNESC, agreed with Mr. Anaya's views.

"Going forward, it is our hope that the Government of Canada will engage in meaningful consultations with us so that we can reach a solution that is in the best interest of First Nations children," he said..

About FNESC and FNSA:

Through FNESC and the FNSA, First Nations in British Columbia have made progress in establishing the foundations for a comprehensive B.C. First Nations Education System - one that contributes to healthy, self-determining and thriving communities. FNESC and its 103-member Board represent all First Nations communities in British Columbia. FNSA and its 10-member Board represents 130 on-reserve schools under local control and provides a united voice for First Nations in the province. First Nations have relied on FNESC and the FNSA to advance First Nations education. The First Nations education system in British Columbia has been recognized by the provincial government.

Contact Information

  • Irma Arkus
    Manager of Communications
    First Nations Education Steering Committee
    Office: 604-925-6087 x 110
    irmaa@fnesc.ca