Indigenous Education for and by Indigenous Peoples

AFN Special Chiefs Assembly

Republished from Idle No More, May 29, 2014,

On Tuesday Indigenous Peoples rejected the fabricated "First Nations Control of First Nations Education - Bill C-33" and asserted that we need INDIGENOUS EDUCATION FOR AND BY INDIGENOUS PEOPLES!

The motion to reject Bill C-33 at the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly (SCA) was carried. The Chiefs in Assembly listened to the voices of the communities, making this historic decision a step forward for Indigenous peoples. As Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee stated, “The job of our Chiefs was to listen to what our experts and citizens were telling us. What we saw in the bill was a lot of government control and no First Nations control of education for our children.”

The supposed promise of 1.9 billion dollars to support Bill C-33 did not sway us, nor did it sway the Chiefs at the AFN SCA meeting. This is not just about money and it never has been. Our INHERENT RIGHT to educate our children our way and on our terms is NOT FOR SALE. We have agreements and treaties that guarantee funding that have not been honored for generations. As it stands, children attending schools on First Nations receive on average $4000 less per child in yearly funding as compared to children attending provincial schools.

The Chiefs in Assembly unanimously backed the motion that the government "must withdraw Bill C-33 and engage in an honorable process with First Nations that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity to true First Nations control of education based on our responsibilities and inherent Indigenous and Treaty rights." Many of us see this as a victory but also understand that there is much work ahead.

While this success of #KillBillC33 should be celebrated and honored, nations need to continue putting to paper their already developed educational reforms that honor their Indigenous perspectives. Indigenous Education has been taught on these lands for thousands of years and we commend those nations who are already implementing those teachings in their communities.

In addition:

We must remember we are and have been the first voice of our people of these lands. We never relinquished this right.

We must keep the pressure on to stop all legislation of the Harper government that attacks our nationhood, inherent jurisdiction, treaty rights, and the environment.

We must keep the pressure on the First Nation communities, Tribal Councils and PTOs sitting at the current termination tables, which will impede our self-determination and inherent rights.

Nation-to-nation negotiations require relationships of trust and good faith. Because of his incompetence and ignorance regarding these long-standing and significant issues, we call for Bernard Valcourt to step down from his position as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

We recommend organizing teach-ins on the topic of the termination tables in your communities or First Nations to expand informed participation in our movement for self-determination, sovereignty and the protection of our Peoples, Land and Water.

Understanding Bill C-33: “First Nations Control Over First Nations Education (FNCFNEA)”: A Guide

(AFN Chiefs in Assembly Support Chiefs of Ontario Alternative Education Resolution Government Kills Education Bill After First Nations Chiefs Reject It of the Assembly of First Nations’ Confederacy of Nations to the First-Nations-in-Assembly

(Government Holding First Nations Children Ransom: Madahbee