Federal Liberals Support Life Long Learning for First Nations Peoples

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OTTAWA – As part of the Assembly of First Nations “Day on the Hill” today, federal Liberals are standing behind AFN Chief Shawn Atleo in his fight for better learning opportunities for First Nations peoples – and for all Canadians looking for higher education or skills training.

“We share Chief Atleo’s passion for wanting to improve the lives of Canada’s First Peoples – and that begins with education,” said Liberal Human Resources and Skills Development Critic Michael Savage. “It’s why we have made learning one of our three top priorities, which includes reducing financial support gaps for all Aboriginal learners, including First Nations, Metis and the Inuit.

“Our aim is to invest in people in order to build the best-educated, most highly-skilled workforce in the world, and that means giving every Canadian an equal shot to succeed through education and training.”

Part of that success means respecting traditional Aboriginal knowledge and culture in classrooms across the country while significantly increasing the number of Aboriginal educators and scholars. Last week, the heads of Canada’s education faculties joined with First Nations leaders to pledge support for new programs and partnerships that reflect First Nations values.

“It is precisely these kinds of amazing partnerships that will help a future Liberal government succeed in helping Aboriginal students through our learning agenda, so that Aboriginal communities can access opportunities in the new economy,” said Liberal Aboriginal Affairs Critic Todd Russell.

“Incorporating indigenous curriculum and culture into the classroom will go a long way towards keeping them in the classroom – and we congratulate their progressive approach to this.”

At the Canada at 150 conference in Montreal earlier this year, it was pointed out that increasing the Aboriginal participation rate in post-secondary education to the same level as non-Aboriginal Canadians could add $160 billion to the economy over the next seven years.

A TD Bank report released last month also made the case that global economic developments have heightened the need to raise Canada’s educational standards.

“With the continued shift to a knowledge-based economy, more must be done to promote lifelong learning amongst all Canadians,” said Mr. Savage. “Our learning agenda – which also includes reversing Stephen Harper’s cuts to literacy programs and rewarding businesses that invest in skills training for their employees – will put us on the road towards doing that.”

“While the Conservatives’ only priority is to give wealthy corporations another $6 billion in tax cuts when we really can’t afford them, Liberals want to invest in the needs and aspirations of Canadians by freezing corporate tax rates and helping people learn, care for their aging loved ones and prepare for the jobs of the future,” Mr. Russell concluded.

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