Posts tagged ‘First Nations’

October 6, 2014

Canada’s education apartheid

By Robert Green | Published October 2 by

Many Canadians are aware of the fact that Canada’s 1876 Indian Act, which stated that “The aborigines are to be kept in a condition of tutelage and treated as wards or children of the State”, was studied by South Africa’s apartheid regime and served as the inspiration for many of its policies.

Because the information gathering missions to Canada by South African officials occurred way back in the 1940’s, we can safely acknowledge and openly discuss this fact as a dark and shameful chapter of our history without having to look too closely at our present. Yes we served as a model for apartheid but that was a different time, we tell ourselves.

However an examination of Canada’s treatment of its First Nations reveals that parallels with apartheid era South Africa continue right up to present day. Nowhere is this more true than with respect to Canada’s policies regarding First Nations education.

In 1953 the apartheid regime passed one of its most overtly racist laws, entitled the Bantu Education Act. The act’s aim was to place all black schools, which had been run by the church, under the control of the state. As the government saw blacks as little more than “hewers of wood and drawers of water” it was quite open about the fact that education for blacks would be both separate and unequal. The injustices caused by this act would later be recognized as one of the principal causes of the Soweto uprising.

The education system created by the Bantu Education Act had three principal characteristics: 1) Massive gaps in funding between black and white schools; 2) Colonial control over curriculum and school management; 3) Significant differences in the level of training and experience of teachers in the black and white school systems.

Though Canada’s contemporary policies with respect to First Nations education do not go nearly as far as South Africa’s overtly racist policies, each of the above characteristics are clearly present.

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February 20, 2014

First Nations group taking Tories’ aboriginal education plan to court

Published  Feb. 19 2014 by The Canadian Press

The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is requesting a judicial review of the Conservative government’s reworked plan for aboriginal education.

The group is asking the Federal Court to prevent the legislation from going ahead without its endorsement.

The assembly’s chief, Ghislain Picard, and Kitigan Zibi Chief Gilbert Whiteduck are scheduled to hold a news conference tomorrow in Montreal.

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February 18, 2014

Blue dots becoming symbol for First Nations Education Act resistance

Meme meant to represent those not included or considered in current FNEA legislation

By Angela Sterritt | Published Feb 12, 2014 by CBC News

A “blue dot” movement has taken the Twittersphere and Facebook by storm. Photographs of Indigenous people with a blue dot on their chest are being posted on social media.

It follows what happened at a joint announcement on the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act (FNEA).

The proposed legislation was announced in the Kainai First Nation on the Blood Tribe Reserve in Alberta. Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt held a ceremony in the community to “seal the deal.”    

Twila Singer and her two children attended the event.

“We were separated at the door and given either a blue dot or a yellow dot. The blue dots were uninvited guests and were ushered to the gymnasium, and the invited guests were the yellow dots and they were brought to the auditorium where the dignitaries were.” 

Along with about 40 others in the gym, Singer and her seven and 17-year-old daughters viewed what was happening in the auditorium on LCD monitors. At the end, the invited guests were directed to go to the gym for a feast.

That’s when Twila was kicked out — for tweeting.

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February 5, 2014

Kahnawake youth say no to FNEA

By | Published January 29, 2014 by The Two Row Times

KAHNAWAKE – Over 500 people joined Kahnawake’s youth and their supporters for a rally on Kahnawake Territory on Tuesday, to show their opposition to the federal government’s proposed First Nations Education Act. Protestors gave out informational flyers to passing motorists, many of whom honked in support.

The youth statement explained, “We, the executive committee of the Kahnawà:ke Youth Forum, are writing to express our concern for the proposed First Nation’s Education Act and to call on Canada to cease all actions related to the development, passage and implementation of this Act.

As the youth of Kahnawà:ke , it is our responsibility to ensure that we are prepared to become the next generation of leaders and thinkers in our community and as a result to defend and guide the future of the subsequent generations of young Kanien’kehá:ka (People of the Mohawk Nation).

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January 28, 2014

Teach for Canada: A word to the wise from someone who has been there

By Grant Frost | Published January 15, 2014 by frostededucation


Does Teach for Canada seriously expect that sending untrained University Graduates into First Nations classrooms is going to result in anything other than a complete trainwreck?

The schools of Canada’s Aboriginal communities are often staffed with young, energetic, recent graduates who are actually trained teachers. Although each may tell stories of small individual differences made in the lives of individual children, the collective gains of the non-First Nations system in improving the overall well being of First Nations students in this country remains a National shame. But suggesting that placing less qualified and more poorly trained people in classrooms will help the issue could be considered a laughable suggestion.

Except that no one should be laughing.

What arrogance on the part of TFC assumes, for some reason, that yet another well meaning group of Southerners is going to be the saviour of Canada’s Aboriginal people? What possible rationale can they be using to justify their notion that they can prepare people in one summer to understand the complexities of First Nations life? On what planet does living in a community for two years (TFC’s suggested contract length for it’s recruits) make them become “part of the community”, one of the “different ways” the TFC’s graduates will improve education? Finally, what possible insight into First Nations education could be offered by two business consultants, a speech writer, and a lawyer, the current vocations of TFC’s board of directors?

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December 7, 2013

Introducing The Canada Badass Teachers Association: As Corporate Education Reform Goes International, So Does the Movement of Badass Teachers Opposing It

An abridged version of this article focusing exclusively on Teach for Canada was published in The Two Row Times

By Robert Green

Following the founding of the Bad-Ass Teachers (BATs) association last spring I wrote an article explaining why America’s teachers are going badass and why Canada’s need to consider doing the same. The point of this article was to alert Canadian teachers and the public-at-large to the fact that the same corporate education reform agenda that has been so disastrous for the US education system can increasingly be seen to be at work in education policies across Canada.

7065_672210712817216_489712935_nSo it was a pleasure last weekend to receive an invitation to the Canada Bad-Ass Teachers association (CanBATs) Facebook Group.

Interestingly this group was founded by the same teachers that founded the American BATs group.

So why would a group of American teachers want to create a Badass Teachers Association for Canadian teachers? BATs founder Dr. Mark Naisson explained the initiative as follows:

Corporate education reform is a global movement and the resistance to it must be global. The toxic array of policies we have been deluged with in the United States- increased testing in all subjects and all grades; attacks on teachers unions; rating of teachers based on student test scores; preference to non unionized charter schools over regular public schools; substitution of poorly trained teacher temps from elite colleges for veteran teachers- is spreading to every portion of the English speaking world, along with the corporate profiteering that always accompanies these policies. Every form of resistance to these policies; every hard won victory for teaching and learning; encourages more resistance. Our movement must be worldwide to be effective. Hence the Badass Teachers Association, which has organizations in all 50 states in the US, is proud to form a Canadian wing.

The first few articles posted in the CanBATs group speak to the increasingly international reach of the corporate education reform described by Naisson.

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October 29, 2013

Whipping cash-starved native schools into shape won’t work

Editorial | Published Oct 28, 2013 by The Toronto Star

The shortcomings of Canada’s aboriginal education system have been well-documented. For decades Ottawa has underfunded reserve schools, ignored their disproportionately high dropout rate, and shrugged off the funding gap between reserve schools and provincial schools.

It should have been good news this past week when Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt rolled out the First Nations Education Act, a comprehensive plan to upgrade the quality of aboriginal education.

But the reforms the minister proposed were so heavy-handed that First Nations immediately struck a defensive posture, branding the plan dictatorial and patronizing. Aboriginal leaders accused him of imposing onerous demands without providing the resources to meet them; spurning their pleas for collaboration and ignoring the United Nations, which urged Ottawa not to rush ahead unilaterally.

The opposition parties echoed those concerns in Parliament. Jonathan Genest-Jourdain, aboriginal affairs critic for the New Democratic Party, warned that Valcourt was launching his overhaul of aboriginal education “in a climate of utter distrust.”

The bill is needlessly confrontational. It empowers the government to seize control of First Nations schools that aren’t meeting Ottawa’s standards. It authorizes federal inspectors to review each school once a year, recommend improvements and appoint a manager if they were not implemented. It does not provide a single dollar to address the $2,000- to $3,000-per-student funding gap between reserve schools and provincial schools. It would not lift the 2-per-cent-a-year on funding for aboriginal education that has prevailed since the Conservatives took power in 2006.

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