School board voices concerns about new First Nations education act

  • Mar. 28, 2014 2:00 p.m.

School District 50 is adding its voice to the many others across the country with serious concerns about the federal government’s planned First Nations Education Act. The act, under discussion for the last four years but not yet introduced in Parliament, is designed to establish structures and standards necessary to ensure stronger, more accountable education systems on reserves and will result in better outcomes for First Nations students, according to the federal government. It will provide an extra $1.9 billion to address a financial shortfall for on-reserve education starting next year.”When implemented, the legislation will provide stable and predictable statutory funding consistent with provincial education funding models,” the Harper government said.But it’s not been popular with many groups, now including School District 50, which agreed to send a letter when it met in Sandspit on Tuesday.”Â…I am writing to express our serious concerns about the (act),” School District 50 chair Elizabeth Condrotte wrote in an undated but recent letter to Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. Ms Condrotte also said many First Nations have objected to the legislation, given its limited timelines and inadequate consultation and accommodation. Ms Condrotte calls the act a “serious threat to our (provincial) system” and said the “proposal includes overly prescriptive, authoritarian requirements”, and “suggests detailed regulations which would dictate how First Nations would operate their own schools”. She ended by calling on the minister to work with First Nations “in a truly respectful engagement to mutually determine what education reforms and funding are needed to support the appropriate and effective First Nations-controlled education system being advanced in BC.” Other critics include the federal New Democrats, which recently expressed major concerns about how and when the act will be implemented and the Assembly of First Nations, whose chief Shawn Atleo said the act is “not acceptable”.

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