Chief Morriseau – Guarded View on Federal Education Promises

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Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau
Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau

Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau
Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau

Fort William First Nation Seeks Clarity

FORT WILLIAM FIRST NATION – Aboriginal – Fort William First Nation Chief Georjann Morriseau is holding a guarded if not skeptical position toward the proposed First Nation Education Act (FNEA) announced last Friday February 7, 2014. The Fort William First Nation Chief attended a luncheon with the federal Aboriginal Affairs Minister in Thunder Bay.

“Prime Minister Harper while flanked by Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Atleo and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Valcourt, made big promises,” stated the Chief of Fort William First Nation. “It is difficult to trust a government that approaches something as important to our people as this from a place of uncertainty. It was stated that First Nation leadership and communities were ‘extensively consulted,’ despite broad knowledge to the contrary. Right from the onset there is need for clarity”.

In a statement issued by FWFN, “The Act proposes to give First Nations greater authority over on-reserve education reforms. However the promised ‘powers’ will presumably be given from within the framework of federal legislation thereby maintaining control over the direction of any First Nation approach.

“This is neither autonomy nor recognition of the extensive work and negotiations many of our nations have been involved in to this point with Canada,” comments Morriseau.

“It is a positive that Canada has conceded to a significant funding component, however, where is the proposed funding coming from, and on what grounds can this current government commit beyond 2016?” asks Chief Morriseau. “500M over the course of 7 years amongst all First Nations communities is a broad stretch, especially within remote communities who already lack basic infrastructure. An analysis will need to be conducted further to break down the allocation of dollars, then and only then will the First Nations be able to draw an informed conclusion”.

First Nations have consistently asserted their treaty rights to resources within their respective territories; possess the knowledge and expertise to develop their own systems, laws, policies and mandates, and that the crown has a fiduciary and Treaty obligation to support processes that provide sufficient fiscal resources to properly implement education reform that is First Nation led and respects First Nation control over education reform and sustainability.

“At this time, there are many questions, and gaps regarding delivery and what will actually be provided in terms of support. In the interest of our future generations and the preservation of our nations, it may be in the best interest of First Nations, across Canada to not commit until such time we reach a reasonable representative mandate for all First Nations” says Morriseau.