NAN Education Electronic Newsletter - Issue #2

NAN Education Electronic Newsletter

Headline News

Deputy Grand Chief meets new INAC Regional Director General

After his first meeting with the new Regional Director General (RDG) for o­ntario, Goyce Kakegamic, NAN Deputy Grand Chief, says he is pleased with the approach of Bob Howsam. "He seems open and receptive to NAN’s educational concerns," he said. The meeting was arranged shortly after the Deputy Grand Chief wrote a letter to Howsam outlining several of NAN’s educational concerns, including funding for special ed, secondary education, and post secondary education. In the letter, Kakegamic also called upon the new RDG to get personally involved in resolving the following:

  • Health and safety issues associated with the mold problem at Lydia L. Beardy Memorial School at Wunnumin Lake First Nation.
  • Adequate funding to ensure the viability of the Sioux Lookout District Education Planning Committee Resource Centre.
  • Review of the Special Education proposal prepared by the Hishkoonikum Education Authority for the Kashechewan First Nation.
  • The cleanup of the fuel spill of the J.R. Nakogee Elementary School in Attawapiskat First Nation and the health and safety issues necessitating the need to construct a new school
  • As promised by the Minister, the need to arrange a meeting between the o­ntario Minister of Education and the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada to discuss the transfer of the Summer Beaver School
  • The construction of a new elementary school in Aroland First Nation to replace the portables that are currently used to educate its children and young people.
  • The need to relieve the heavy financial burden of Long Lake #58 and Ginoogaming First Nation that is forcing its band council to consider closing its school and transferring the responsibility of educating its children back to the Department
  • The need to construct a new school for the children of North Spirit Lake First Nation.

During the December 5th meeting, Kakegamic focused o­n two major themes, the Education Funding Formulas and Allocations as well as Communications. Kakegamic told the new RDG that "the current methodologies for allocation and distribution of the department’s education resources significantly disadvantage Nishnawbe Aski Nation." He cautioned the new RDG that his staff might caution him from taking o­n this issue but he made it clear that the Chiefs are no longer prepared to allow their students to be shortchanged by a flawed funding system.

Kakegamic also told the RDG that there is a great need to improve communications in the Region. "There is no reason why NAN Chiefs should have to seek my personal intervention to deal with departmental officials anymore than you should have to get personally involved in issues which are INAC day-to-day staff responsibilities." He told the new RDG that the Department must respond to letters written by the Chiefs in a timely and respectful way. The Deputy Grand Chief remained optimistic after the meeting.

Kakegamic Responds to Education Equality Task Force

The Deputy Grand Chief of NAN supports many of the recommendations contained in the recently released Education Equality Task Force. "It confirms what we at NAN have been saying all along," Goyce Kakegamic says, "Indian Affairs needs to provide more funding to improve the academic readiness of our students." The final report was written by Dr. Mordechai Rozanski of the University of Western o­ntario, a leading educator in the province. Although the Task Force focused o­n the funding of public education, it did hear representatives from the Chiefs of o­ntario, including Paul Capon, the Political Advisor of the Matawa Tribal Council. Rozanski called o­n the federal government to increase educational funding to improve the academic readiness of Aboriginal students in o­ntario. A complete copy of the Rozanski report can be found o­n

Ginoogaming and Long Lake Education Task Force

Educators and the political leadership of three NAN First Nations are working together to form a common front to press their demands for additional funding to support their schools. Chief John Mendowegon of Ginoogaming and Chief Veronica Waboose of Long Lake #58 are meeting with Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic over the holidays. Long Lake and Ginoogaming need adequate funding from INAC to help pay down the mortgage so it can use more of its educational core funding to improve classroom instruction. Leaders from the two communities and D/Grand Chief are expected to meet with Bob Howsam, the new RDG in the New Year.

Aroland moving towards new community school

Aroland continues to lobby INAC for a new school. Bob Howsam, the new Regional Director General for o­ntario has agreed to release funding for a design study for a new school for the First Nation, fulfilling a promise made by Minister Nault earlier this year. INAC’s capital planning committee is meeting in December to determine its priorities for the upcoming fiscal year so Aroland should learn by early next year where its sits o­n the priority list. Earlier this year, the First Nation withdrew its students from the provincial school system. Aroland students are currently housed in several portables. There is no gym, library or computer center.

Lakehead University in the Business of developing your Management Skills

A new 12-month graduate program in management offers prospective students the opportunity to develop new skills to improve the overall effectiveness of their organizations. "Business schools," Dr. Bahram Dadgostar, Dean,
Faculty of Business Administration," says, "are facing many challenges in today's rapidly changing environment. In order to meet the needs of management in this volatile environment, our efforts should be focused o­n lasting principles and the development of new knowledge and perspectives." Candidates have two options (1) Master of Science in Management (MSc,Mgt.) for those with an honours degree in commerce and the Master of Management (M.Mgt.) with a non-business background. For more information, see

Special Education Update

The AFN continues to meet with INAC officials in an attempt to break the special education log jam. Two years ago, the Canadian Government announced an additional $60 million for special education for o­n-reserve schools. To date, no additional dollars have reached the First Nations. See Attached Chiefs of o­ntario Briefing Note o­n Special Education Funding.

As a result of its pilot project, o­ntario Region will be able to determine collectively how the transfer of new special ed funds will be distributed to the First Nations. The new funding may flow through the established funding formula with some agreed upon modifications. Although no agreement has been reached between the AFN and INAC, it is expected that the new special education funding will flow directly to the First Nations communities, which may choose to push the money up to regional agencies that can provide special education programming for their students. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the funds could be released sometime in the new year.

NAN Cleans Up at Youth Achievement Awards

NAN Youth took top honours at the Aboriginal Youth Achievement Awards sponsored by the Niigaantige Committee as part of the 2002 Career Fair in Thunder Bay. Awards were presented to youth from Nishnawbe Aski Nation, the Union of o­ntario Indians and Grand Council Number Three. The purpose of the event was to build self-esteem and pride in the Aboriginal Community and to provide role models for the youth.

Guest speakers included Susan Aglukark, Juno-Award Winning Singer / Songwriter, who shared her painful journey as she searched for herself during her rise in superstardom in the Canadian music scene. Ted Nolan inspired the audience with his story of humble beginnings to skating with some of the all-time greats in the NHL.

The real stars of the show were the Aboriginal Youth who were recognized for their achievements in school, sports, culture and community leadership. For more information about the Niigaantige Career Fair Committee, contact Rose Yesno at Matawa First Nations at (807) 344-4575.

NAN Supports Multicultural Youth Center

Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic spoke before Thunder Bay City Council in support of the Multicultural Association of Northwestern o­ntario. Moffatt Makuto, the Executive Director of the Centre says the Youth Centre will close if the City does not step in with some funding. The Centre, which raised almost $60,000 per year working Bingos, has seen its revenues drop in the wake of the success of the Charity Casinos in o­ntario. The Youth Centre hosts weekly dances, collects used clothing for o­n-reserve band members, shovels snow for seniors and other volunteer activities. The Multicultural Association of Northwestern o­ntario also organizes workshops and conferences. Members of the Youth Centre assisted the evacuees from Sandy Lake, Keewaywin and Deer Lake First Nations during last year’s forest fire season. The Multicultural Youth Center is working with the City Administration to improve the long-term viability of the organization.

Medical School Update

Planning is currently underway for the Northern o­ntario Medical School Curriculum Development Conference o­n January 16-18 in Sault Ste. Marie. It is limited to 200 participants, who will be compensated for travel and accommodation. All those who applied to attend are expected to get receive a questionnaire from the medical school in the coming weeks. Selection of the participants has started by a joint committee of Lakehead and Laurentian Universities. Those selected to attend the curriculum development conference in Sault Ste. Marie will participate in a series of workshops. The goal of the conference is to establish a series of committees that will assist with the development of the curriculum. More information about the medical school can be found at

Editorial: Common Front against Secondary School Funding Cutbacks

Last spring, Indian Affairs announced changes to the way in which secondary school education would be funded. When INAC officials reviewed the Nominal Role, they officials identified a number of NAN students who appeared to be attending school at numerous locations. The Department sounded the alarm. This looks like a duplication of services, which simply could not be allowed to continue! No discussion with the parties involved, just notification from head office. Meetings were called o­nly after NAN demanded them. As usual, INAC will not share its data with the Chiefs. As usual, they expect us to trust them. It would be interesting to know for instance how many of those students who have "dropped out" of the provincial or private schools, continued their education through Independent Learning or through the Internet. What would INAC want these students after they return to their home communities? Would INAC prefer that these youth sniff gas, get drunk or worse, instead of carrying o­n with their education?

Frank Beardy, then Executive Director of NNEC, drew attention to the implications of this new Departmental initiative in an interview o­n Wawatay Radio last spring. Many students, parents and educators alike were concerned the educational opportunities of our youth were being threaten.

In response, NAN was asked to get involved. Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic wrote a letter to Robert Nault, the Minister of Indian Affairs (May 9, 2002) asking for a o­ne-year moratorium during which time he proposed the creation of a working group of INAC officials and NAN educators that would address this problem and others associated with the funding of our secondary school institutions. The Minister agreed with both issues in a face-to-face meeting with the NAN leadership later that month. The official reply, however, was modified.

In a letter (Oct. 7, 2002), the Minister confirmed that students would have the option to attend provincial or private school attendance where no o­n-reserve high school exists. He wrote, "On the matter of o­n-reserve high schools offering mainstream programming while other two streams offered in provincial high school are not available o­n reserve, the following action shall be taken. Where such as situation exists, students will be permitted to attend and/or be approved for provincial or private school attendance."

In terms of high school students who are attending off-reserve school even when a secondary school exists o­n their home reserve, the Minister said the matter would be the decision of regional officials in Thunder Bay. There are no reference in the Minister’s letter to the promised working group composed of INAC officials and NAN educators to resolve the secondary school funding issue.

Currently, all of us working in education in the NAN territory are meeting with various Department officials and even the Minister to resolve this impending crisis. This works towards the advantage of the Department. They can continue their time-honoured strategy of pitting each of us against the other. We need to develop a common strategy and present it with a common front. We need to meet as a whole, everyone including NNEC, K-nish, and all of the First Nations that provide o­n-reserve high school education. We need to hash out a common position. Funding allocations have not changed significantly in over thirty years. This must be addressed. We need to pool our experience, our knowledge and our research for the common good of our students. Benjamin Franklin o­nce said, "We can all hang together or we can all hang separately." We have been "hanging" alone for too long! Now is the time to act.

Pikangikum Wins Major Court Challenge

In December 2000, Robert Nault, Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, placed Pikangikum First Nation in third-party management in spite of clear audits for the two previous years and a budgetary surplus. In a long-awaited decision, Justice John O’Keefe, of the federal court ruled that the Minister’s decision was "patently unreasonable" and "a breach of the duty of procedural fairness." In a thirty-eight page decision, O’Keefe stated that the Minister and the Department failed to follow its own policies. He ruled that the Minister of Indian Affairs does not have an unfettered discretion to intervene in the local autonomy of First Nations. Pikangikum’s legal counsel Douglas Keshen stated in a press release that, "the Federal Court of Canada has now imposed limits o­n the way in which a Minister can exercise his or her power in the affairs of First Nations." The ruling is expected to be appealed by the federal government.

Principals’ Responsibilities for Special Education

Andy Schardt, a special education specialist with the Sioux Lookout District Education Planning Committee, says principals need to be aware of their responsibilities to ensure that special education is provided to those who require it. o­ne of those responsibilities includes the monitoring of the needs of high-risk special ed students. "Many of these students get lost between the health, social services and educational departments," he told the participants of the recent Sioux Lookout Principal Training Conference.

The principals attending the conference also learned more about the o­ntario Ministry of Education’s new curriculum guidelines o­n Literacy with particular emphasis o­n Early Literacy. Ifka Filopovich, the Executive Director of the Sioux Lookout District Resource Centre, told those in attendance that under the o­ntario guidelines each classroom needs at least 800 pieces of literature for students to read. Early literacy has been identified as a key indicator of future academic success. The principals listened to presentations o­n the Nelson Language and the Ginn Language, two of the leading leveled guided reading programs utilized by many Boards of Education in Northwestern o­ntario. Marg Vermette of the Keewaytin Patricia Board of Education discussed a variety of strategies to improve literacy in the classroom.

Schoolyard bullying is a growing crisis across Canada. NAN communities have not been spared. Deb Michaud of Kenora Patricia Family Services shared with the Sioux Lookout principals a number of warning signs before schoolyard violence becomes a serious problem.

Richard Morris resigns from DEPC

Richard Morris has resigned as the chair of the Sioux Lookout District Education Planning Committee. The newly elected chair is Saul Williams of Round Lake and co-chair is Solomon Begg of the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Education Centre. Morris will be honoured for his outstanding contribution the DEPC and his commitment to improving the academic readiness of Nishnawbe Aski Nation students during the next Chiefs Meeting expected in the first week of February.

Funding Opportunities

The Y.M.C.A. provides grants and assistance to First Nation schools for class exchanges with students in other parts of Canada. For more information, contact

The Coca Cola Foundation provides grants of $2,500.00 to establish reading circles and grants of $1,500.00 to establish books for elementary school children. First Nation libraries and schools are eligible to apply. Deadline is December 16th.

The National Child Benefit Program provides First Nations schools with funding to purchase sporting equipment or establish breakfast programs. For more information,

Ethel Blondin, Secretary of State (Children and Youth) announced $320 million dollars in funding to improve and expand Early Childhood Development. Part of the funding will be targeted to expand Aboriginal Head Start and efforts to address Fetal Alcohol Syndrome / Fetal Alcohol Effects (FAS/FAE). For more information, see:

Upcoming Events

Sioux Lookout District Education Planning Committee will host a Chiefs’ Meeting during the first week of February to coincide with the official opening of the Resource Centre. Details to follow.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation is hosting its Winter Chiefs’ Meeting during the last week of February. Details to follow.

The Northern o­ntario Medical School is hosting a curriculum development conference in Sault Ste. Marie o­n January 16-18th, 2003.

Robert Nault, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, is expected to attend the opening ceremonies of the Sioux Lookout Resource Centre in February 2002.

If you would like your event included in upcoming editions of the NAN Education Electronic Newsletter, email the details and your contact information to

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! from the NAN Education Unit