Grand council chief calls on government to stop education experiment

ONTARIO—The Government of Canada must stop experimenting with the lives of First Nations children, according to Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee.

Chief Madahbee says the federal government’s plan to unilaterally push ahead with a First Nations Education Act looks like the latest in a long list of federal attempts to control the destiny of First Nations people.

“They have used us like lab rats, sterilized us and starved us, and forced us to attend schools where we were beaten and abused and thousands of our children died,” said Mr. Madahbee in a release. “When will they learn that they don’t know what’s best for First Nations?”

Indian Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt said last week that there will be no additional federal funding for First Nations education until he sees reform of the current system of education delivery on First Nations. The federal Conservatives are expected to introduce the First Nation Education Act this fall.

“Instead of investing in our own Anishinabek education system and our own First Nations school boards, the federal government is yet again forcing its method of education on our First Nations,” said Chief Madahbee. “The Anishinabek have invested 19 years in consulting our citizens and education experts to develop a school system that will make it more likely that our children can succeed in the classroom.”

“During that time the federal government has imposed a two percent funding cap on education, which has resulted in funding for students attending First Nations schools being thousands of dollars less than those attending public schools off reserve. It also means that fewer First Nations students can pursue post-secondary learning,” continued Chief Madahbee.

“The federal government has to stop experimenting with us and blaming us for an education system that they imposed failing our children,” said Mr. Madahbee.

The grand council chief said the imposition of a First Nation Education Act would contradict the residential school apology issued by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in the House of Commons five years ago, as well as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to which Canada is signatory and which says, “Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their education systems and institution in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.”