Public Relations Officer
Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des Élèves du Secondaire au Canada
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 17, 2017
Self-Governed Education for Anishinabek Nation to Support Student Success
TORONTO, ONTARIO, AUGUST 17, 2017 - A recent agreement between the federal government and the Anishinabek Nation of Ontario will allow 23 Anishinabek reserves to self-govern their education system. As an advocate for student empowerment, success, and equity, the FCSS-FESC is in full support of this decision.
According to the agreement, the Anishinabek communities involved will be able to control the education of students in kindergarten to grade 12 on reserves. This will allow for the creation of a curriculum that incorporates the instruction of Anishinabek culture, history, and language. Ultimately, the agreement seeks to improve the academic success of Anishinabek students and reduce dropout rates. Regarding the agreement, Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee emphasized the importance of education to the First Nations people, stating “the impacts of colonialism [with regards to] Indigenous people kept us uneducated and in poverty”. He went on to explain that “education is the key to our future, where we build capacity and we take over and run our own lives”.
According to Tracey O’Donnell, the Anishinabek Nation’s education negotiator, about 8 percent of Anishinabek students attend on-reserve schools. However, the majority of Anishinabek students attend provincial schools due to a lack of facilities on reserve, or because their families live off-reserve. Thus, the agreement will also include collaboration between Anishinabek communities and the provincial government to develop programmes supporting Anishinabek students off-reserve. For example, this could consist of changes in Ontario’s curriculum to include Anishinabek history and culture. “What we’re trying to do is create a new reality so our students achieve the same level or even higher level of success than other Ontario students,” O’Donnell said.
The agreement will affect about 25 000 Anishinabek people, and is the largest self-governing agreement to be signed in Canadian history. All 40 of the Anishinabek Nation’s member First Nations communities are allowed to join the agreement.
The Anishinabek Nation’s self-governed education system is in line with the FCSS-FESC’s goal to empower all Canadian students with the opportunities and resources needed to succeed in school and beyond. Anishinabek students will be able to receive a well-rounded education that does not diminish the importance of their unique cultural identity and heritage. The FCSS-FESC believes that this agreement will help provide Ontario’s Anishinabek students with opportunities and resources, and is an important development with regards to the Federation’s own mission of ensuring equitable education for students across Canada.
The Federation of Canadian Secondary Students | Fédération des Élèves du Secondaire au Canada (FCSS-FESC) aims to deliver the student voice to education stakeholders, when it is often forgotten in daily discourse. We are a non-partisan, not-for-profit organisation that is led completely by youth. Together, we are the largest student alliance of its kind in Canada. Our programmes supplement public education with networking events, leadership opportunities, peer mentorship, and conferences. Our events are designed to guide Canadian youth of today and ensure their successful tomorrow, while working to improve education today.
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