Valcourt hints Ottawa may move ahead on education bill without AFN

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt vented his frustration Thursday with the Assembly of First Nations’ rejection of a proposed bill for First Nation education and hinted Ottawa may move ahead on the file without the support of the chiefs’ organization.

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt vented his frustration Thursday with the Assembly of First Nations’ rejection of a proposed bill for First Nation education and hinted Ottawa may move ahead on the file without the support of the chiefs’ organization.

Valcourt said the AFN received “tens of millions of dollars” from Ottawa over the past eight years so it could play the role of “interlocutor” between the federal government and First Nations, but its decision on Bill C-33 had left the government with little choice.

“We invested tens of millions of dollars in the last…eight years into the AFN for that very purpose, to have this relationship rebuilt,” said Valcourt. “I respect their charter, their way of doing business, but we have to find a way to move this file forward because it is the kids, the students on reserves who are paying the price, not the chiefs.”

The Assembly of First Nations moved to reject Bill C-33, the First Nation Control of First Nation Education Act, on Tuesday. British Columbia and chiefs from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, however, were willing to work with the proposed bill through amendments. They were overwhelmed by chiefs from the prairies, Quebec and Ontario.

The Harper government put Bill C-33 on hold following the resignation of Shawn Atleo who left his post as national chief of the AFN. Atleo was supportive of going ahead with the bill and AFN officials were in the midst of drafting possible amendments when he called it quits partly as a result of the tensions created by the file.

Valcourt said the bill would remain on hold until Ottawa figures out what to do next. The federal government has invested four years of work into developing the bill and First Nation education was mentioned in the last Throne Speech and three budgets.

The bill also came with $1.9 billion, but the majority of the money promised would not flow until 2015. Valcourt said the money couldn’t materialize without a bill. He told the House of Commons committee on Aboriginal Affairs that about $1.4 billion of the total was statutory funding, meaning it needed legislation to flow.

“In the aftermath of that decision made by those chiefs in assembly at this latest AFN assembly will assess the situation and determine how to best proceed positively,” said Valcourt. “This is not about politics, this is about the future of success of First Nations students on reserve.”

First Nation leaders called on Ottawa this week immediately release the $1.9 billion for First Nation education. The money has already been penciled into the “fiscal framework,” according to government officials who spoke on background during the release of the most recent federal budget. The move would be absorbed

Others, however, are open to making regional agreements with Ottawa, outside of the AFN.

 

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1 thought on “Valcourt hints Ottawa may move ahead on education bill without AFN

  1. @Min_BValcourt wouldn;t know truth if it bit his arse. Bill C-33 was a con job from the getgo to make the government look great and the Indigenous People look like a disorganized rabble. He should get a “Dummy” Award for not understanding his colonial construct had no legal basis for negotiating Treaty Rights.

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