APTN National News
OTTAWA–Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt released an open letter to Assembly of First Nations Chief Shawn Atleo Friday urging the First Nations leader to keep working with him on developing legislation to govern on-reserve legislation.
The letter comes two days after chiefs at a special AFN assembly in Gatineau, Que., voted to reject Ottawa’s proposed First Nations Education Act, saying it ignored their call to have First Nation control over First Nation education.
In the letter, Valcourt said the government’s proposed legislation, which is in its first draft, gives that control.
“The government of Canada agrees that First Nations must have control over their education,” said Valcourt. “The proposal I put forth is intended to empower those who know best what their children need-First Nations, parents, communities and administrators-to determine what is most effective for their success.”
Valcourt also repeated that Ottawa would not be releasing additional funds until legislation is in place.
“New funding will be available if legislative reform takes place,” said Valcourt.
Valcourt’s letter was written in response to an open letter from Atleo released on Nov. 25.
“The challenge we face in increasing the intolerable graduation rates in First Nations schools is not insurmountable because we see success already before us,” said Valcourt. “Such as with the graduation rate among the Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia that is more than double the national average.”
Valcourt said the proposed legislation, should it become law, would not impact existing comprehensive or “sectoral” self-government agreements that include education.
Valcourt’s letter was originally posted Friday morning, but was pulled by the early afternoon.
The original posting included the next-to-last draft version of the story, which was replaced with a final version shared with the AFN.