The Chiefs of Ontario Indigenous Education Summit delegates have rejected the federal government’s proposed Bill C-33, First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.
“The greatest difficulty we have with (Bill C-33) is that in the preamble of the body of the bill, it fails to recognize our inherent authority,” said Regional Chief Stan Beardy. “It fails to recognize, under Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution, that we do have the authority, we do have Aboriginal treaty rights. They totally ignore that — they focus on (Section) 91 powers, the federal powers, to continue to escalate their views.”
Beardy said the residential school system was developed and imposed on First Nations people by the federal government.
“As long as we’re not recognized as people, as long as we’re not recognized that we have inherent authority within the Canadian Constitution, what is designed for us will not work and we learned that through the residential school (system) — it just does not work,” Beardy said.
“All we’re saying is, first, recognize and please respect your own constitution, and let’s begin our discussion and look at the system that will work for First Nations people in collaboration with the Canadian government under Section 35.”
Beardy said the Maori education system works in New Zealand because the Maori helped with the design.
“We’re saying the same thing, that we want to work with the Canadian government to design a system that will work for our children and for us as well,” Beardy said.
The number of Maori school leavers who were qualified to attend university more than tripled between 2002 and 2010, according to an http://www.educationcounts.govt.nz website chart, from 7.7 per cent of the 9,445 Maoris school leavers in 2002 to 23.1 per cent of the 10,620 Maori school leavers in 2010.
The COO Indigenous Education Summit delegates developed an alternative proposal for First Nations education, which included the rejection of Bill C-33 and the negotiation of a political accord on First Nations education, during the May 8-9 gathering in Thunder Bay.
“I believe this plan is forward movement in maintaining education of our children which needs to be in the hands of our communities,” Beardy said. “This was the direction provided to us by the over 250 participants, chiefs and educators who attended our summit this week. We developed a plan to move forward based on our needs, our priorities and under our control.”
Although the COO Indigenous Education Summit delegates also requested a Confederacy of Nations meeting for May 14 in Ottawa, the Assembly of First Nations national executive committee decided against convening the governing body, which has been dormant for about 10 years.
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