News Release Article from  Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Bill C-33, First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act Introduced in the House of Commons

The proposed legislation will ensure First Nations students have access to a quality education, consistent with provincial education systems across Canada.

April 10, 2014 – Ottawa, ON – Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Bernard Valcourt today introduced Bill C-33, First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act in the House of Commons.

The proposed legislation will provide First Nations students with the education standards, supports and opportunities that most Canadians take for granted. It will require that First Nation schools design curriculums that ensure students can transfer seamlessly between schools on and off reserve, that students meet minimum attendance requirements, that teachers are properly certified, and that First Nation schools award widely recognized diplomas or certificates.

Acknowledging that First Nations are best placed to know what their youth need to succeed, the legislation recognizes the responsibility of First Nations in the administration of their own education systems on-reserve. To support First Nations control of First Nations education, as announced on February 7, 2014, the Government of Canada has committed to providing for stable, more predictable statutory funding that increases annually at a rate of 4.5 per cent.

The legislation follows years of unprecedented consultation, discussions, and studies, and reflects the efforts of many First Nations individuals and organizations from across Canada. The legislation also contains a number of changes from the October 2013 draft legislative proposal to address the five conditions for success identified by First Nations as necessary for the success of First Nations students.

The Act proposes to create a Joint Council of Education Professionals, comprised of experts in education, to provide advice to First Nations and the Government of Canada on the implementation of the Act and on the development of regulations. The Joint Council’s role would be to support First Nation Band Councils and First Nations Education Authorities in the improvement of the their education system, as well as play an oversight role ensuring that the ministerial powers provided by the Act are exercised with the benefit of the First Nations perspectives and used as a last resort.

Quick facts

  • Currently, there are no minimum legislated standards that apply to on-reserve students, including the requirement that teachers are provincially certified, that parents and schools ensure minimum attendance requirements for students, and
    that education programs offer recognizable certificates or diplomas. This creates situations where First Nations youth graduate from education institutions on-reserve but cannot demonstrate a recognizable diploma to a workplace or post-secondary institution and are required to return to school. The First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act would fix this.
  • With more than 400,000 Aboriginal youth projected to be ready to enter the labour market over the next 15 years, helping Aboriginal youth succeed in school and graduate is critical to increasing their chances at a self-sufficient life and increasing their participation in Canada’s economy.
  • The proposed legislation responds to the five conditions for success that were identified by the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and endorsed in a resolution by the Chiefs in Assembly in December 2013.
  • In Economic Action Plan 2014, the federal government committed to invest an additional incremental $1.9 billion beginning in 2015-2016 to improve education outcomes on reserve.
  • This Act would not detract from existing agreements and arrangements for the administration of education systems on reserve.  First Nations will continue to have the option to develop and implement education self-government regimes.

Quotes

“Our Government knows that a good education can change a life—that’s why I am so pleased that we have made reforming First Nations education a priority and introduced the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act. This will help First Nations access the skills they need to live healthy and successful lives—this is good for First Nations, for Canadians and for our country’s future.”

- Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development

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Erica Meekes
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
819-997-0002

Media Relations
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada
819-953-1160

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