Developing a First Nations Education Act in Canada: A good idea or misguided legislation?

March 26, 2014 :: Brenda Gail Fox, Kanakii Mekaisto, Genevieve Bruised Head
Moderated by Lance Grigg

(Special Session in partnership with the Lethbridge Public Library)
Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Venue: Lethbridge Public Library Theatre Gallery, Main Branch, 810 – 5th Ave. South
Free admission, everyone welcome

Many First Nations people are reacting with disappointment to the Federal Government’s proposed education legislation for First Nations that was released recently. Under the draft legislation, band councils would be allowed to operate schools directly, as some already do, but also to purchase services from provincial or regional school boards or from the private sector. First Nations could also form education authorities that would oversee one or more schools in a region, but the Federal Government would set and enforce standards for schools on reserves. As well, the minister would retain power to take over schools or school authorities if issues arise.

The panel will discuss the timeline of implementation and why it is being proposed. What is the history of Federal legislation for First Nations education in Canada? What were the problems and focus of Residential Schools? How are Industrial Schools working? Are First Nations in control of education on reserves now? What is the real reason for the proposed changes? Is it all about economics? Is the notion of a balanced education that is grounded in traditional knowledge and culture getting lost in the proposed legislation? What are some key principles of traditional knowledge and culture? What is Blackfoot pedagogy and who needs to be involved while creating a blueprint for First Nations education? Where does Elders fit in?

Brenda Gail Fox: Niisto niitaanikko Ma’taaki. Is currently teaching Grade One at Aahsaopi Elementary School. Completed her BA in Native American Studies minoring in Social Studies. Brenda also completed her B.Ed. in the Niitsitaapii Education Program and is currently teaching Blackfoot Language and Culture in a Grade One Class. She is also working on completing her Master's Degree in Education.

Kanakii Mekaisto: Nihstawok Iikanahsoyakii, Was raised in Siksika First Nation and has a Bachelors’ Degree in Social Work from the University of Calgary. Kanakii is a candidate in the Master’s Degree program of Education at the University of Lethbridge and is at present also contracted to work as a Resource Worker at Crowfoot Elementary School in the Siksika Nation.

Genevieve Bruised Head: Teaches grade 5 at Chiila Elementary School, Tsuu T'ina Nation. Genevieve is currently enrolled in the Master’s Degree program of Education at the University of Lethbridge. She previously earned her B.A/B.ED.

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