The 10th Annual Western Canada First Nations Education Administrators Conference kicked off in Saskatoon this morning.
The three-day conference is hosted by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the Prince Albert Grand Council.
FSIN Senator Sol Sanderson, this morning’s keynote speaker, says improving Indigenous education starts with First Nations people taking full control of their own educational systems.
“The first thing is to take full control, without that you have nothing,” he says. “So, to do that, they need to restructure, implement inherent treaty rights to education under First Nations law and jurisdiction, not provincial jurisdiction.”
Education Minister Don Morgan, who was the keynote speaker this afternoon, says the Joint Task Force on First Nations and Metis Education is working to eliminate what may have been jurisdictional barriers to funding in the past.
He says the province is fully aware that many First Nations students are transient between communities.
“We know that sometimes First Nations people will spend time on-reserve, come off-reserve — they’ll go back and forth — so we’ve just said we’re going to provide the supports and services where they’re necessary,” he says.
Morgan adds the main goal of the province is to ensure the gap in educational outcomes between non-First Nations and First Nations students is narrowed.
The joint task force has put $3 million toward initiatives such as an on-reserve driver training program, educational staff support and a Cree language program.
The conference winds up on Thursday.