Saturday, 7 December 2013

First Nations Education Act: What Exactly Does Six Nations Want?

In an article entitled, Chief-elect setting up Education Action plan to fight Federal bill (Turtle Island News, November 27, 2013, p.5), it is asserted that a major problem with all the fuss about the pending implementation of the First Nations Education Act is that Six Nations has not come up with an action plan.  The only thing that is agreed upon is that the Federal legislation is rejected.  But as Councillor Miller has astutely said, this is not enough, you can’t just say you disagree with something then not come up with a viable plan – things don’t work that way.  There appears to be no agreement as to whether a joint plan with the Assembly of First Nations would be the best way to proceed – some disagree, some agree.  Chief-Elect Hill has proposed a media campaign to let people know that they are opposed to the First Nations Education Act (due to be implemented in January 2014) – but one might again ask the question – then what is the proposal – what is the solution?  The focus seems to be once again on the past.  The school supplies for 2013 were late in arriving - for reasons that to this author are unclear.
An old adage applies here, “don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions”.  If Six Nations does not like what the Federal Government are proposing, they will need to have a specific plan in place and apparently there is nothing remotely of this nature anywhere in the works.  Councillor Miller stated that neither the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) or the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) have an action plan.  Time is running out.  The fall back plan will have to be acceptance of the Federal plan unless the Chiefs get their act in gear.  This does not seem likely.  What does seem likely is that once the Federal Government enacts its legislation, it will be roundly criticised, but is there a single party out there with a viable plan (other than pouring more money into the system) which will address the wishes of the Six Nations (and other FN) Community?  Since there is absolutely nothing on the horizon, just complaints, then we may as well just prepare for lots of belly aching from those who did not have any fresh ideas to offer the Federal Government – who is somehow supposed to work miracles and please 600 plus First Nations communities.  That is completely unrealistic.

This is highlighted by the further article in the same source as above (p. 5), First Nations oppose “unacceptable” federal education reform plan.  The Assembly of First Nations Chief, Shawn Atleo, complains, almost to the point of obsession, about the old residential school system (not wanting to go back to those days), and that there was a lack of consultation, and little recognition of the importance of language and culture.  On and on with what he believes are problems, so the griping is unremitting, but never specific solutions.  There is a crying need to lay all the facts out on the table, and assess the merits or downside of each.  Trying to see both sides, if I were a Federal official, it would seem to be the prudent thing to simply stick with the status quo until such time as the various First Nations representatives can come up with some explicit details as to what needs to be done – not just blanket statements about past wrongs etc. etc.  The plan is “unacceptable” – is that the best you’ve got?  No wonder so many people are frustrated.

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