First Nations Education Debate Starting

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Dream CatcherTHUNDER BAY – The issue of First Nations education is generating a lot of interest over the past several days. The Government of Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, the Nishanawbe Aski Nation, and other First Nations organizations are all focusing on the issue.

Members of the National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education issued the following statement.

“Our mandate is to hear from First Nation students, parents, elders, teachers, school administrators, community leaders, and others in each region across the country. We fully respect that some people may want to engage with us, while other may not. We respect those First Nations that have chosen to run their own parallel processes and provide a separate report to the National Chief. As Panel members, we value their input and we will take their feedback, as well as what we hear from others, into account when we build our report and recommendations.

“We will listen to all who participate in this very important undertaking to find ways to better support K-12 First Nations students. Throughout September, October and November, we will hold eight regional engagement activities and one national roundtable. We look forward to visiting First Nation communities and to hearing directly from First Nation youth in particular.

“As previously stated, on June 24, we visited Akwesasne First Nation at the invitation of the community. We visited four First Nation schools and met with the leadership and education officials. We also had the privilege of hearing directly from young adults in that community.

“Since then, we met with representatives of the Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) on July 6 and we participated in a discussion with board members of the First Nation Education Steering Committee (FNESC) in British Columbia, during their Annual General Meeting on July 7.

“More recently we spent a day in Saskatoon on July 29 and two days in Vancouver on August 8 and 9, meeting with community leaders and Chiefs who wanted to share their perspectives with us.

“It is not physically possible to meet with everyone in person, but we invite those who are interested in sharing their views, thoughts and innovative ideas to make submissions or post ideas on our website at www.firstnationeducation.ca. It is also possible to write to us directly at:

National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education
255 Albert Street, Room 900
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H4

“The Panel entered this process with no preconceived ideas regarding the outcomes. We clearly understand that our job is to take in everyone’s suggestions and to develop recommendations for improving educational outcomes for First Nations students based on the information that we receive along the way.

“To us as Panel members, First Nation students must come first. We are deeply committed to finding solutions that will enable them to succeed in school, develop their many talents, and fulfill their hopes and aspirations”.