More Work Needed to Teach First Nations Language and Culture
TORONTO – Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy is calling for more cultural support in publicly-funded schools following the release of the People for Education’s 2015 Annual Report.
The Report includes findings that publicly funded schools are not providing opportunities for students to learn about First Nations peoples and cultures.
“The statistics reported on First Nation language programming in public schools provides stark evidence of the need to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission around First Nation languages,” said Ontario Regional Chief Beardy. “The Report indicates that although 96% of secondary schools have Aboriginal students enrolled only 11% offer Native language programs.”
The 2015 Report also implies that cultural support programs are lacking in Ontario’s public schools. Currently, 13% of elementary schools provide cultural support programming even though 92% of schools have Aboriginal students enrolled.
Chiefs of Ontario Education Portfolio holder Grand Chief Gordon Peters said, “Things are improving in the public education system, but the pace needs to be stepped up. We cannot continue to deprive generation after generation of our children of a culturally-relevant education.”
The Report also finds that publicly-funded schools with higher proportions of First Nations students have less access to specialists like health educators and guidance counsellors.
“I commend the People for Education for highlighting the need for Ontario to do more in the area of indigenous education,” said Regional Chief Beardy. “Chiefs of Ontario will continue to work with the Ministry of Education to address the resourcing and knowledge gaps in the People for Education report.”