THUNDER BAY – The National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education were welcomed on Treaty 3 sacred territory on September 14, 2011, for its first of 8 regional roundtable discussions. In Northern Ontario, the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) has set up their own panels.
First Nation participants including students, parents, elders, teachers, education administrators and community leaders attended the roundtable discussion. Participants spoke about their hopes for the day and for the Panel’s work, about the unique education needs for First Nation students, and what needs to be done to help students stay in school and graduate from high school.
The National Panel members heard from many participants that First Nation education is considered a lifelong learning process and requires a holistic approach, and that when young people have a strong understanding of who they are and where they come from, they appear to be more engaged and successful. They also noted that leadership at all levels, including student mentoring, is a highly important factor in students’ success.
Earlier in the week, the National Panel visited schools and met with community leaders and with students, parents and teachers in the Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation and the Whitefish Bay First Nation, as well as representatives from neighbouring communities.
The Panel wishes to thank the communities and schools they visited for their hospitality and to thank everyone they have spoken to for their openness and forthright views, which will help the Panel build their recommendations to the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.