Anishinabek First Nations have about 26,000 students who attend schools on and off reserves. Of these, more than 4 in 5 live off reserve and attend provincial schools off reserve. Roughly 2,000 students live on reserve but attend off reserve provincial schools. Another 2,000 students who live on reserve attend schools run by First nations. In other words, one 1 student in 10 attends a school operated by Anishinaabe.
SUPPORTS AND SERVICES
The provincially run schools do not adequately reflect Anishinaabe culture, language and heritage. A 2012–13 survey showed that 51% of provincial elementary schools and 41% of provincial high schools provided no aboriginal education opportunities. They did not offer relevant professional development for teachers or cultural support programs. (First Nation, Metis and Inuit Education: Overcoming Gaps in Provincially Funded Schools, 2013)
Across Canada, only 36% of First Nations students living on reserve graduate from high school – half the Canadian graduation rate of 72%. Part of the explanation lies in an attendance rate lower than the Canadian average. Improving attendance and raising graduation rates will help more Anishinaabe to succeed in college or university, help them find rewarding work, and build better lives and communities. For both First Nations people and Canadians, a university degree leads to employment rates of 75% and more
A BETTER FUTURE
If ratified this year by Anishinabek First Nations, the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement will give the First Nations full control of education from junior kindergarten through grade 12.
This includes decisions about how to spend education funding. In making our own decisions about our own education system, we will help our students to learn our history, our cultural heritage and our language. They will continue to learn English, math, and Canadian history and geography. Parents, Elders and communities will be encouraged to help students to succeed in reaching higher education goals and taking up their future responsibilities. This approach delivers proven results. In Nova Scotia, the Mi’kmaq education system has a graduation rate of 85%–90%.
The Anishinabek First Nations that ratify the agreement will set up the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body. This central organization will manage finances, establish educational policies and guidelines, and coordinate with the provincial government. These First Nations will control the central organization, regional education councils, and local education boards or committees. The federal government will provide funding for education for the Anishinabek First Nations, as it does now. The funding will be stable. It cannot change unless First Nations and the federal government agree.
The Anishinabek First Nations have tuition agreements with district school boards in Ontario. Some have tuition agreements with four different boards – English public, French public, English Catholic and French Catholic. Through “reverse” tuition agreements, Anishinabek First Nations accept off-reserve students to their on-reserve schools.
MASTER EDUCATION FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT
The Anishinabek First Nations and Ontario signed an historic framework agreement on November 19, 2015. Guided by this understanding, negotiators are developing an agreement to support First Nation students’ education in Anishinabek First Nation schools and provincial schools.