CHIEFS OF ONTARIO REJECT FEDERAL CONSULTATION PROCESS ON DEVELOPING A FIRST NATION EDUCATION ACT
Toronto, ON (December 13, 2012)—Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy and Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians Grand Chief Gord Peters, Chiefs of Ontario (“COO”) Political Confederacy Education Portfolio Holder and member of the Assembly of First Nations (“AFN”) Chiefs Committee on Education today responded to the Government of Canada’s December 11, 2012 unilateral announcement to start consultations on the development of a First Nation Education Act.
“First Nations in Ontario do not support the federal consultation process as they have rejected the unilateral imposition of federal legislation,” said Ontario Regional Chief Beardy. Grand Chief Peters added, “this will do nothing to clear the air on the funding issue, the only thing this consultation process will accomplish is confirm systemic issues that have been identified repeatedly over the last decades and add to the copious amount of funding already wasted on reiterating concerns and recommendations.”
At both the regional and national levels, First Nations in Ontario have called for a working relationship with the Government of Canada to support the development of regional agreements on education---not legislation subject to the whims of the federal government. “First Nations in Ontario are guided by our nation-to-nation treaty relationship with the crown and will continue to chart our own path forward to improve the delivery of a community focused education system that meets the needs of our people,” said Beardy.
December 6, 2012 marked the conclusion of the AFN Special Chiefs Assembly. It was also the day that Minister John Duncan of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development agreed to meet with AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-Chut Atleo and a small delegation from the AFN Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE). Media coverage following this meeting inaccurately concludes from a statement made by Minister Duncan that First Nations and the Minister came to an agreement on the path forward. Grand Chief Peters participated as a member of the CCOE delegation to reiterate the position of the Ontario Chiefs and offered a statement clarifying the purpose and outcomes of the meeting (attached).
Peters stated, “I can confirm that there was no agreement between First Nations representatives and the Minister on any matters, issues, or process related to education reform, including the consultation process announced.” In the wake of the #IdleNoMore Indigenous grass-roots movement currently taking place in Canada, the unilateral imposition of legislation on education will continue to remain another sore point.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario.