NAN Education Electronic Newsletter
The $60 million new special education funding promised by the federal government almost two years ago has been approved by the Treasury Board and may be released directly to the First Nations as early as next month. Wendy Martin-Johnson, a policy analyst with the Chiefs of Ontario, told members of the COO Education Committee, that the Department could release the funds almost immediately upon Treasury Board approval.
The funds will be distributed directly to the First Nations. Ontario’s portion of the Special Education funds will be disbursed according to the pilot project in the province with modifications to meet the needs of students. Details to follow.
Bob Nault’s Education Blue Print to be released
The Final Report of the National Working Group on First Nations Education is expected to be released sometime in mid-February according to senior INAC officials. Few details are known. Members of the Working Group have signed confidentially agreements not to discuss the contents of the report prior to its release. Earlier this month, however, Minister Nault told the editorial board of the Edmonton Journal that one of the Working Group’s recommendations included a call for all Native schools to be administered by provincial school boards.
Med School Curriculum Update
Over twenty NAN members attended a curriculum development workshop for the Northern Medical School (NOMS) in Sault Ste. Marie earlier this month. Participants were divided into 12 to 15 working groups, which provided ideas and ranked priorities for the new medical school. Goyce Kakegamic, Deputy Grand Chief of NAN, addressed the assembly at the last dinner of the workshop. He spoke of NAN’s on-going commitment to NOMS and reminded those in attendance that NAN’s support was conditional on three issues, (1) a role in governance, (2) a role in the development of curriculum and (3) a guaranteed number of seats for Aboriginal medical students. Earlier, Ron Wakegijig, a traditional healer at Wiky stated that he was against any special consideration for Aboriginal candidates for the medical school. NOMS will be hosting another curriculum workshop that will focus exclusively on the concerns of Aboriginal People in the North later this spring.
Upcoming NAN Education Committee Meeting
Funding has been provided by the Governance Secretariat (PCU) to host a NAN Education Committee Meeting on February 18, 19 and 20th. During the Education Committee Meeting, the Governance Secretariat (PCU) will provide an update on the status of their deliberations in the education jurisdiction. They are seeking the advice and counsel of the members of the NAN Education Committee. The PCU is particularly interested in the opinions of grassroots educators concerning the current process. Negotiators representing Canada will also address the members of the NAN Education Committee.
In addition, the Education Committee will hear updates on the upcoming release of Special Education funding. There will also be a discussion about the serious problems confronting all of our communities regarding the matter of secondary school funding in our territory.
NAN Students Abroad
The Education Unit is seeking a mandate from the NAN Chiefs to look at the feasibility of setting up a foreign exchange program for high school students in the territory modeled after the successful Nunavut Students Abroad program. As part of that program, Inuit students participate in an exchange program that takes them for six weeks to a Canadian city followed by an exchange to an African country. Participants learn valuable skills in public speaking and government. They tour various cities in Canada, Europe and Africa.
No New Money for AETS
Dianne Cunningham, the Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, has rejected calls from the Grand Chief of NAN to increase funding for the Aboriginal Education and Training Strategy (AETS). Grand Chief Stan Beardy had written to the Minister requesting additional funding for the Aboriginal Post Secondary Institutes in Ontario to deal with the Double Cohort. Currently, Ontario provides Aboriginal Post Secondary Institutes with $800,000 annually in the Start-Up and Development Fund. This is a far cry from the $7 million annually provided to Ontario’s colleges and universities to educate Aboriginal people.
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The Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council Education Unit, under the direction of Mr. James Teskey and the Learning Through the Arts ( LTTA ), Royal Conservatory of Music's program manager Mr. Conrad Bobiwash hosted the LTTA workshop at the Red Lake Conference Center over the weekend (January 31 to February 2).
All five of the KO First Nation operated schools had teachers, artist practitioners and education staff taking part in the workshop. In all, over thirty particpants joined us for this workshop. One outcome of the workshop is that each participant will be able to take the information back to the community to provide more relevent education to support our children more effectively in the classroom.
The LTTA program was shared with all the particpants. The partnership between the KO and LTTA was explained to particpants. After this, the hard work of getting down to writing lesson plans from the existing community resources was completed. As an example the Poplar Hill teachers and artist practitioner will be studying the local animals in the community (excluding the Rez dogs) and developing the language usage in the near future.
All five of the communities will start to implement the lesson plans immediately in their schools. Congratulations goes out to all particpants from all the communities on making our first workshop a great success.