On Tuesday March 7th at 3pm EST / 2pm CST, Dr. Pirjo Vaittinen from the University of Tampere, Finland will conduct an on-line seminar with teaching professionals across Ontario's far north.
She will provide a thirty minute overview of her research on teaching and learning language and literacy in the Finnish school system. Following her presentation and responses will be made by Darrin Potter, principal of the Keewaytinook Internet High School in Balmertown. Joining Darrin will be Roy Morris and Sherry Mamakwa of the Kwayaciiwin Educational Resource Centre in Sioux Lookout.
A question and answer period will follow with directors of education, principals andteachers working in First Nations schools in remote and isolated communities in Ontarios's far north.
Workshop participants will discuss whether best practices and lessons learned in Finland have an application in Ontario's far north. The session will be streamed and archived for those unable to participate "live."
The on-line workshop is hosted by the Keewaytinook Okimakanak Research Institute (KORI - http://research.knet.ca), the research arm of Keewaytinook Okimakanak, one of NAN's six tribal councils serving First Nations in Ontario's far north.
Confirmed videoconferencing sites include Thunder Bay, Sioux Lookout, Balmertown, Keewaywin and Weagamow First Nation. KO is the leader of First Nations connectivity and telecommications in Canada. K-NET Services, the telecommunications department of KO facilitates IP videoconferencing in over 80 communities in Ontario and across Canada.
For more information or to find out how to participate on-line, email email@example.com at KORI.
NAN will host a three day conference focused on the importance of maintaining a healthy family structure March 7th through 9th at Redwood Park Church, Thunder Bay, ON.
Keynote and guest speakers at the forum will include Rev. Shianne Eaglehart, a world renowned healing professional with over 20 years experience and the Honourable James K. Bartleman, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
This three-day conference will include workshops and entertainment featuring: Waneek Miller, Olympic medalist; Fresh I.E., Grammy nominee; and, the Jody Brown Indian Family, International Recording Artists.
For More Info see the NAN website:
Tories to create aboriginal school boards: 'There's no school system': Native-run boards to be 'accountable,' Prentice says
OTTAWA - The Conservative government is set to overhaul aboriginal education in Canada by introducing native-run school boards that would be accountable for the $1.2-billion in federal money spent on the country's 140,000 on-reserve children.
The Liberal government was heavily criticized by the Auditor-General and the Conservatives when they were in opposition for simply handing over the cash to First Nation band councils without any measure of accountability or educational performance standards.
Auditor-General Sheila Fraser said high school completion rates of around 41% would take 28 years to reach national Canadian rates of nearly 70%.
Ms. Fraser said the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs had no idea whether it was spending too much or too little and was equally in the dark about results achieved by children on reserves.
Jim Prentice, the new Indian Affairs Minister, said in an interview yesterday part of the problem has been that his department has acted as a funding agent without setting educational standards.
"What's happened is we've evolved from the old residential school system to a funding arrangement where there is no school system. It's every school for itself, operating according to its own rules and standards," he said. "[But] I don't accept that we simply flow the money through to 615 First Nations with no system, either as to their financial accountability or education outcome accountability."
Mr. Prentice said he intends to bring forward a First Nations Education Act that would prescribe the same rights for aboriginal children as those that are enshrined for other Canadian children in provincial school acts -- the right of a child to get a defined quality of education; curriculum requirements; classroom sizes; teaching certificate requirements, and so on.
He said he has already held discussions with First Nation chiefs in Alberta and has had a good response. In Alberta, aboriginal school boards would be set up along treaty boundary lines, which would result in three boards.
British Columbia would have a different system of aggregation. He said both provincial governments have shown a "high level of interest."
"I hope other provinces see the merit of this and begin to evolve in this direction."
Mr. Prentice said he believed First Nations leaders would be excited about the opportunity to exercise authority over a system that could match provincial standards, while protecting their own cultural and linguistic sensibilities.
Phil Fontaine, the Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, gave the government's plan a cautious welcome.
"Aggregating communities under one school authority is a good option, provided the school authority or board has the resources and capacity to deliver good education programs to kids. If the money isn't there, all these good ideas will fail, and I don't think anyone wants to see that."
The Conservatives, in their election platform, committed to the goals of the Kelowna conference on aboriginal affairs last November, which aimed to close the high school graduation gap by 2016.
"Obviously what this requires is a willingness on the part of aboriginal Canadians to breathe life into the educational commitments from Kelowna," said Mr. Prentice.
"How important is this? After issues of basic things like water service and so on, I think the whole subject of First Nation education is the most important task at hand. Everything else flows from having well-educated children."
Mr. Fontaine said major reforms will be needed if Canada is to hit its Kelowna targets.
"There is no question that there needs to be major changes. But one of those major changes has to be greater control by First Nations."
He said he was "quite encouraged" by his conversations with Mr. Prentice, who, he said, "has not turned his back on Kelowna."