First Edition of the NAN Education Electronic Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of the NAN Education Electronic Newsletter.

I hope that this provides you with some helpful information. Please feel free to comment. Are the stories too short? ... too long... any ideas that you might want to offer would be greatly appreciated...

If you would like to include any news, please email to me and I will include it in a future edition. I would like to thank Jim Teskey for the original suggestion to develop this...

Brian Walmark
NAN Education Advisor

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Education Electronic Newsletter

Grand Chief meets Paul Martin

Grand Chief Stan Beardy met privately with Liberal leadership candidate Paul Martin during a visit to Thunder Bay o­n October 25th. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed a variety of topics including the lack of adequate funding for NAN students attending college and universities. "While NAN high school graduates wait for funding to attend college and university to train as doctors, nurses, accountants, teachers and engineers, First Nations and Multinational Resource Development Companies bring in outside consultants to work in o­ntario’s far north," the Grand Chief told the former finance minister. His words had an impact o­n the Liberal leadership candidate. During his speech before the Thunder Bay-Superior North Liberal Riding Association, Martin pledged to provide adequate funding to ensure that more Aboriginal students have the opportunity to get into the college or university of their choice.

Education Work Plan o­n hold pending INAC Review

Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic and Brian Walmark, NAN Education Coordinator, met with Doug Forbes, Acting Regional Director, INAC, o­ntario and Kathy Knott, the o­ntario Director of Education to discuss several outstanding funding issues including the NAN Education Three-Year Work Plan. The education work plan was drafted in response to the recommendations from the NAN Education Conference (2002). While the work plan was delivered to the Department in July 2002, neither Forbes nor Knott had seen it. Both agreed to review it and meet again in the future.

Secondary School Funding

The Department is forging ahead with its plans to change secondary school funding in the next fiscal year. Correspondence between Robert Nault, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic continues o­n the matter. Last March, the Minister agreed with Kakegamic to set up a working group composed of NAN and INAC educators to address the broader issue of secondary school funding. However, the Minister now wants his National Education Advisory Committee to meet with representatives from Sioux Lookout to deal with the matter outside of normal political channels.

COO Special Education Meeting in Thunder Bay

Grand Chief Stan Beardy of Nishnawbe Aski Nation greeted educators from First Nations across o­ntario attending the COO Special Education Meeting o­n November 4, 2002 in Thunder Bay. The representatives, specialists in special education, discussed ways to improve the special education funding formula. The Canadian Government announced an additional $32 million for high needs special education for o­n-reserve school more than two years ago. To date, no funding has been released to the First Nations. It is estimated that o­ntario’s share of the new special education funding will be approximately $6.5 million, however, details from the Department has been sketchy at best.

Forum o­n Aboriginal Student Achievement

Educators from across Northwestern o­ntario met in Thunder Bay to discuss ways to improve the academic performance of Aboriginal students in the mainstream school system. The meeting was called in response to the poor results of many First Nations and Metis students who participated in province-wide testing. Representatives from various school boards, the o­ntario Ministry of Education, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and the First Nations listened to presentations o­n "best practice" methods and broke into various focus groups to develop recommendations to improve academic readiness.

Chief Nathan Matthew of North Thomspon Indian Band told those in attendance that the BC Government provides an additional $900 for every Aboriginal students in the public school system. The Chief discussed various educational programs created for his students. He stated that the additional funding does not flow directly from the BC Government to the school boards. All the funding flows to the First Nations, which in turn reviews the progress made by each school in improving the academic readiness of its Aboriginal students. "Schools that make no effort to improve the educational experience of our students do not get any of the additional funding," Chief Matthew said.

Jennifer Adams, Superintendent of Schools for the Lakehead District School Board, closed the forum saying that there is currently an opportunity to press both levels of government for additional funding to improve the academic readiness of off-reserve Aboriginal students attending area schools.

Community Education Initiative Timmins Chamber of Commerce

OCC’s Hannah Sutherland is volunteering some of her spare time to help Timmins-area students improve their basic skills. "Many young people need some additional help in various subjects. This homework club is a place where students can seek out tutors in a safe and secure environment," she said. All of the volunteer tutors are qualified teachers. "The homework club offers me the opportunity to teach traditional values in the school system," she said. If you know of any other educational projects that you want to raise awareness about, let us know at

NAN Rejects Minister’s National Education Committee

NAN has gone o­n record as objecting to the Minister’s National Education Advisory Committee. Grand Chief Stan Beardy has written to the Minister saying that the Committee lacks a NAN representative in spite of population and geographic considerations. "No o­ne o­n this committee is familiar let alone experienced with the special educational challenges in the NAN territory," he said.

Schoolyard Bullying Initiative

In response to Chiefs’ Resolution 02/55, the NAN Education Unit is conducting research into the problem of schoolyard bullying and its impact o­n Aboriginal Youth. An advisory committee is being set up. Any member who wishes to volunteer for the advisory committee, contact Brian Walmark at 1-800-625-4936.

Medical School Update

Roger Strasser, MD, the new Founding Dean of Medicine of the Northern and Rural Medical School, met last month with representatives of each of the northern PTOs. NAN hosted the meeting that covered a variety of topics including: First Nations participation in the governance of the new medical school, the recruitment and retention of Aboriginal students and a role in the development of curriculum.

Dr. Strasser indicated he is willing to explore various ways to ensure that First Nations students have the opportunity to success in the medical school. Deputy Grand Chief Kakegamic invited Dr. Strasser to accompany him o­n a tour of some of NAN’s remote First Nations. The Dean agreed that Oshki-Pimache-O-Win could play a significant role in the preparation of Aboriginal students for medical school.

The Education Unit is looking at various strategies to encourage more of its members to consider a career path in medicine. Medical education is costly and will continue to be so in the immediate future. The Education Unit has been asked to explore the possibility of creating a scholarship fund for NAN members who want to attend medical school. What do you think? If you have some thoughts o­n this question, contact Brian Walmark at 1-800-465-9952.

Employment Opportunity

The Northern and Rural Medical School requires a communications person for the Northwest Campus in Thunder Bay o­n a fee for service basis. The successful candidate should have a journalism background with some experience in print and broadcasting. For more information, call (807) 343-8110 and ask for the Northern and Rural Medical School.

Suicide Prevention Conference

Deputy Grand Chief Kakegamic has been appointed chair of a suicide prevention conference to be held o­n November 14 to 17th in Thunder Bay. NAN leaders and grassroots members will address the crisis of youth suicide from a Church perspective. For more information, contact Fred Saggahie, volunteer coordinator at 1-807-623-8228.

To share news in your region or to suggest story ideas, please contact us at or call 1-807-623-8228.

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NAN Education Electronic Newsletter
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Thunder Bay, o­ntario P7J 1L2
Phone: 1-800-465-9952 // Fax: (807) 623-8066