A joint task force on Aboriginal education and employment released its long awaited report today and now all that remains to be seen is which recommendations will be acted on.
The report was released after almost a year of public hearings around the province and there are 25 recommendations.
Key amongst these recommendations are cultural awareness in the education system, equal funding for Aboriginal students and partnerships involving First Nations groups, governments and institutions.
Education minister Russ Marchuk says the government is committed to acting on the report.
“This isn’t a report that is going to sit on the shelves and I was very pleased with the recommendations and how they lined up with our plan for growth and some of the initiatives we have already got going,” he says.
Some of the recommendations should be easy to implement such as providing provincial funding for driver education at on-reserve schools.
However, others will be more complex and involve federal funding – like significantly boosting the per capita funding for First Nations students attending schools on reserve.
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Vice Chief Simon Bird says the report is a major step forward and now is the time for action.
“I would like think the report will not be gathering dust and if it does somehow start collecting a little bit of dust we will keep referring back to it because this kind of information direct from the grass roots people and stakeholders cannot be in ignored,” he says.
Métis Nation of Saskatchewan President Robert Doucette says he likes some of what he sees in the report but it doesn’t go far enough.
Doucette says it is a positive step that First Nations and Métis languages are officially recognized but the report does little to put forward a concrete plan to address the lack of job opportunities for Aboriginal people in the province.
“What we don’t see in this report is a road map for helping Métis people get the education and training they need in the long term to ensure meaningful participation in the labour force,” he says.
Task force chair Gary Merasty says he is confident the report will be acted on by both levels of government.
He says the educational outcomes of Aboriginal people in Saskatchewan have improved dramatically over the last couple of decades but there is still a long way to go.
The report involved the participation of more than 1,000 people and was a joint effort between the province, the FSIN and MNS.