Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett. Photo courtesy of Manfred Joehnck.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett delivered a pep talk at the First Nations University of Canada today aimed at Aboriginal children in the education system.

She highlighted the federal government’s commitment to provide an extra $90 million over two years to the post-secondary support program for First Nations students.

Although the announcement was nothing new, it was welcome news to those gathered to listen to the minister speak. Among them were elementary students, high school students and students from FNUniv.

Bennett says a better education for First Nations students will lead to better opportunities.

“The message is about hope,” she said. “We want young Indigenous people to know at the very earliest age that they can be whatever they want to be.”

There has been a repeated call for the federal government to end the inequity in funding for on-reserve education. Bennett says that is being done, in conjunction with input from local bands.

“When groups of nations want to come together to develop and education system, we have extra dollars for that so that they can work on changing the curriculum,” she said.

The current budget for the post-secondary student support program is $340 million, supporting about 23,000 First Nations and Inuit students. $90 million was added during the last federal budget.