SERPENT RIVER FIRST NATION – First Nations are sending a message to the federal government. “In December of 2010, when the Federal government walked into an Assembly of First Nations Assembly, to ‘tell’ us that they are moving forward with an expert panel on assessing the education needs of First Nations across the country – that was the first vital imposition, the next would come in the form of arbitrary legislation,” says Chief Day of Serpent River First Nation.
“First Nations in Ontario will not participate in the federal government`s so-called ;consultation process’,” added Chief Day. “In relation to a proposed First Nations Education Act. We are rallying on the North Shore of Lake Huron to show solidarity on this stance. Further, Chiefs right across the country are very clear on the funding issues – its not enough and the government wants to legislate an inadequate commitment so that it becomes law. “This has to be the most blatant form of dictatorship we are seeing from the government”.
The Union of Ontario Indians state, “First Nations in Ontario submitted a comprehensive report in lieu of their participation in the government’s National Panel process, which has never been acknowledged by the federal government. Despite a national First Nation resolution rejecting the development of a First Nation Education Act the federal government announced they would move ahead with their legislation as planned. The priority of First Nations is to address the discriminatory funding gap that exists. Presently it is estimated that First Nations learners receive $2000-$3000 less per student per year in comparison to their non-Aboriginal peers in the provincial system”.
“We are maintaining a position rejecting a federally imposed First Nation Education Act and have recently indicated that they will not participate in the federal consultation process related to education legislation,” says Chief Day. “We are also clear that education policy and jurisdictional discussion with the provinces must take place in a fair and transparent way.”
“The federal and provincial governments must be reminded that we entered treaties with the intent to share in the wealth and bounty of our lands – not to be poor and have substandard programs, but to flourish like everyone else in the country.”