(Delegation of Chiefs and Youth Delegates – Advancing First Nations Control of First Nations Education)
Listuguj, together with 21 First Nations Communities in Quebec, Attend Official Signing Ceremony of the Regional Education Agreement
July 15, 2022 by Dr. Amy Chamberlin – Research Associate, LETE Governance
July 14, 2022 (Kahnawà:ke, Quebec) Listuguj, together with 21 First Nations Communities in Quebec and the First Nations Education Council (FNEC), signed a Regional Education Agreement (REA) with Canada strengthening and advancing First Nations Control of First Nations Education for children and youth, from kindergarten to Grade 12. The signing ceremony took place on Kahnawà:ke territory at the Kahnawake Survival School.
Built in the spirit of reconciliation between Indigenous peoples and Canada, this regional agreement is intended to make certain that Indigenous learners have access to education that meets their needs and goals and reflects their respective worldviews and values while respecting the principle of First Nations Control of First Nations Education. (https://www.afn.ca/policy-sectors/education/).
“This is the action of reconciliation. The Agreement means that First Nations will lead the education of their children. It means that First Nations will ensure that culture, language, and identity are at the core of everything. It means that First Nations will have the resources that they need to hire and retain teachers and educators that will combine 21st century culture and technology with the historic culture and technology that is still alive today. This agreement has been designed by and for First Nations. This is a new reality in this country: Indigenous leadership, self-determination, true Nation-to-Nation relationships,” Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu said in the press conference.
The federal government, through Indigenous Services Canada, will provide 1.1 billion dollars in funding over five years. The federal government will provide an additional 310 million from Budget 2022, and 790 million will be transferred using existing funding structures.
“For communities, the funding provides for flexibility; we can set our own priorities and goals. The funding is sufficient, allowing each of us to take on First Nations Control of First Nations education,” said Chief Darcy Gray.
The result of 10 years of collective work, the agreement is based on a funding formula designed by and for First Nations members of the FNEC. The agreement will allow for:
- Culturally relevant curriculum
- Improved student success (academic outcomes).
- Recruitment and retention of staff (teachers and specialized resources)
- Increased student retention and high school graduation rates
- Integrating technology into the classroom
- Adequate funding for bus transportation
(Chief Darcy Gray signing collective agreement alongside Denis Gros Louis, FNEC Director General)
“This agreement is positive step forward in terms of reconciliation. Gives us the capacity in our communities to start bringing services that are equitable and comparable to provincial levels services. But also, more importantly, in terms of capacity to provide us with the tools to begin the decolonization of our education systems,” Chief John Martin of Gesgapegiag and representative of the Chiefs for the FNEC.
The agreement offers potential for transformation in the areas of curriculum, language, and Indigenizing the curriculum of the programs in First Nations schools. The signing ceremony marked a milestone in the renewed relationship between Indigenous Peoples and Canada and in the realization of Indigenous peoples’ rights to determine their respective pathways in education.
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