THUNDER BAY – Acting Ontario Regional Chief Alvin Fiddler is hopeful today’s $112 million funding announcement to support First Nation education community will help to ensure a safe return to school on reserves.
“Today’s announcement is very much welcomed, but the delay in addressing the ongoing funding requests to ensure the health and safety of First Nations children returning to school on-reserve has been very distressing to leadership across the region,” said Acting Ontario Regional Chief Alvin Fiddler. “We require immediate information on the proposed distribution of funds by the federal government, but we have heard clearly that First Nations in Ontario do not want a proposal based funding approach especially given this funding commitment was made so close to the start of the school year. First Nations regions and communities have long been planning for the safe re-opening and return to school despite the lack of committed funds, and I am sure that communities will put this much needed additional funding to work as soon as it is available.”
The current pandemic has exposed the reality that First Nations communities experience regarding accessibility to online learning and educational resources, and only exacerbates the widening educational achievement gap. This additional funding will help offset Covid-19 disruptions and help communities properly prepare and plan for a safe re-opening of schools for First Nations children this school year.
“We also recognize and acknowledge the federal government for the additional $381 million to be provided to Ontario which will help our off-reserve students gain greater protections as well, through the support of adapted learning spaces and purchases of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies,” stated A/Regional Chief Fiddler. “We will continue through our regions and communities to work with both the federal government, province and all parties to ensure that our children have the resources and safe spaces available as we look to re-open our schools, including the capacity to utilize online learning resources both on-reserve and off-reserve.”