Sometimes I get mailers in my postbox from the Conservative Party of Canada, with happy middle class people putting their kids in sports and arts activities, or getting a home reno credit, or what have you. I always feel saddened at the assumed– or perhaps real– selfishness of myself and people similar to me.
Dear Conservative Party of Canada,
I’m a middle-class woman. I own my own home and car; I buy my kids educational toys and take them to educational activities. I have strong community support from my family and church. I live happily and comfortably– I don’t need any more tax credits. If you want my vote, please, for the love of all that is holy, tell me about what you’re doing for the 42% of native children with no dental care. Take my share of the home renovation tax credit and use it to make up the $2000 deficit in native high schools. I’ll pay for my own kids’ art lessons and you do something about our missing and murdered aboriginal women. Please. I have enough and more than enough to be happy and healthy. Let’s right some of these wrongs.
Today I learned that a bill called “First Nations Control of First Nations Education” is currently under debate between the Assembly of First Nations and the Aboriginal Affairs department. (Apologies for any misinformation as this is not an area of expertise for me.)
From Prime Minister Harper’s website:
“The legislation will ensure First Nations control of First Nations education while establishing minimum education standards, consistent with provincial standards off-reserve. For example, the legislation will require that First Nation schools teach a core curriculum that meets or exceeds provincial standards, that students meet minimum attendance requirements, that teachers are properly certified, and that First Nation schools award widely recognized diplomas or certificates. These requirements do not currently exist… The legislation will also improve transparency and promote accountability by establishing clear roles and responsibilities for First Nation education administrators, and annual reporting requirements. The bill will also allow for the establishment of First Nation Education Authorities. These Authorities will act like school boards in the provincial education system to provide the key secondary support to help ensure that First Nation schools are meeting their requirements under the Act, and are providing a quality education for First Nation students.”
From the AFN website:
“First Nations are calling for real engagement with the federal government on an honourable process that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity to achieve First Nations control of First Nations education based on First Nations rights and responsibilities. First Nations overwhelmingly rejected federal legislation, Bill C-33, because it was about federal control of First Nations education. In the wake of that rejection, First Nations are calling for a new path forward leading to genuine First Nations control supported by fair, predictable and stable funding for First Nations education.”
From the Bill itself, section 21, which would preclude the possibility of First Nations language immersion schools (not the contrast of ‘is to’ and ‘may; it’s not insignificant coming from a government that has in the long-term played the part of dismantling and erasing First Nations cultures):
“Subject to the regulations, the council of a First Nation is to offer English or French as the language of instruction and may, in addition, offer a First Nation language as a language of instruction… The council of a First Nation may, as part of an education program, give students the opportunity to study a First Nation language or culture.”
From Twitter, the hashtag #IAmRogue on the subject:
I have recently been staggered by how little I know about Canadian First Nations and the issues surrounding their interactions with the Canadian Crown and white privilege. As I do begin to educate myself and practicing listening and caring, you will find there are more posts on First Nations issues here.