AFN calls on government to invest in First Nation education systems in meaningful way

AFN press release

Assembly of First Nations Responds to the Federal Government's Announcement of Funding for First Nations Schools - Investment Falls Short of Real Needs

November 24, 2014

(Ottawa, ON):  The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) commented today on the federal government's announcement of funding to construct and repair First Nations schools, which appears to be the amount already allocated in the 2014 federal budget that established $500 million over seven years beginning in 2015-16 for a new First Nations Education Infrastructure Fund.

"There is an urgent need for resources to build and repair First Nations schools so that our children have safe and secure learning environments, but it is unfortunate that the amounts announced today will not be enough to address the real needs in our communities," said AFN Regional Chief for Nova Scotia-Newfoundland Morley Googoo. "Based on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's own evaluation in 2010, AFN has calculated that First Nations require $500 million over 5 years just to build new schools, and $232 million is required over 7 years for operations and maintenance. So today's announcement falls short of what is needed right now and is stretched over a longer time period.  Until we address real needs and a new approach to First Nations education, First Nations children will fall further behind.  As the youngest, fastest growing population in the country this is not good for First Nations and it is not good for Canada."

The AFN is calling on the federal government to reaffirm its commitment to $1.9 billion identified in budget 2014 to begin closing the long-standing, well-documented funding gap in First Nations education.  A new approach also requires engagement between First Nations and the federal government through an honourable process that recognizes and supports First Nations control of First Nations education based on First Nations rights and responsibilities.  AFN wrote to the Prime Minister last August calling for a new approach.  First Nations continue to prepare their plans for progress and change in education, and this will be discussed at the upcoming AFN Special Chiefs Assembly in Winnipeg, Manitoba from December 9-11.

Regional Chief Googoo stated: "We will continue to press the federal government for a real investment in First Nations education and re-engaging on a new approach for success based on First Nations control of First Nations education."