Ministers, Native Leaders Discuss Education Gap

Tuesday, February 24, 2009 at 14:59



An historic summit on the future and direction of Aboriginal education in Canada is officially underway.


Education ministers from across the country are gathered in Saskatoon today and tomorrow, where they are swapping ideas with members from the nation’s five largest Aboriginal organizations.


Kelly Lamrock is the chair of the Council of Ministers of Education Canada.


He says too many Aboriginal students are falling through the cracks, leaving children without role models to follow.


Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine says he hopes the federal government begins to realize the limitations it is placing on treaty students by limiting education funding to a two per cent increase each year.


Fontaine says there are 42 First Nations across the country that can’t even begin to build a school due to that financial restriction.


Metis Nation – Saskatchewan President Robert Doucette says Metis students are also falling behind, noting they don’t even have the education grants First Nations students can access.


Doucette wants to see new money targeted for Metis students.


He says the government won’t make solid inroads into improving the situation until it acknowledges the cash crunch it has created.


The president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada is optimistic this week’s summit will result in action.


Jacobs says Aboriginal leaders know the solutions to addressing the education gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.


She says the education ministers can’t be afraid to examine and tackle the broader issues, adding politicians often say they are limited to discussing only certain things.


If governments are looking for the easiest answer to levelling the education playing field, Jacobs says increasing funding is the way to go.