FSIN Executive Communique May 18, 2012
SWAMPY CREE FIRST NATIONS WILL HOST FSIN SPRING LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY
After today’s conference call with the IGC/Executive Council, we would like confirm that the Swampy Cree First Nations (Red Earth, Shoal Lake, Cumberland House) will host the next FSIN Spring Legislative Assembly scheduled for June 26 & 27, 2012 in Nipawin, Saskatchewan. We want to thank Chief Marcel Head, Chief Ian McKay and Chief Lorne Stewart for their efforts and hard work to make this a successful bid. Details on logistics will be forthcoming very shortly.
The next Indian Government Commission/Executive Council meeting has also been confirmed for June 13, 2012 at the Saskatoon Inn.
National Education Plan
The AFN has issued a briefing note on the next steps in education. There was a meeting of the Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) and National Indian Education Council (NIEC) in Ottawa on Tuesday May 08, 2012. There was discussion on the formation of a National Education Steering Committee to oversee discussions with the federal government on the recommendations of the National Education Panel. This committee would have one representative from each region. This committee would then report to the CCOE and National Executive.
Vice Chief Bird has taken the position we do not need to form another group but should use the either the existing CCOE or NIEC. Both of these groups report back to the Chief’s organizations in the regions they represent. Saskatchewan First Nations along with First Nations in other regions have clearly stated their dissatisfaction with the National Education Panel report but the AFN is attempting to follow the recommendations of that flawed report.
Deputy Grand Chief Terry Waboose of Nishnawbe Aski Nations (NAN) has sent a letter to National Chief Atleo and Vice Chief Googoo asking them to immediately announce no action will be undertaken by AFN until there has been full discussion and debate on this matter by the Chiefs in Assembly. Vice Chief Bird supports these sentiments on this issue.
Human Rights Complaint on Education
In 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society ("Caring Society") lodged a human rights complaint against INAC. The complaint alleges that INAC underfunds child welfare services on reserve compared to what is provided by provinces to individuals living off reserves. The Commission accepted the complaint and referred it to the Tribunal for a hearing. In March 2011, the Tribunal dismissed this complaint on the basis that the services provided by the Government of Canada cannot be compared to those provided by provinces. More specifically, the Tribunal held that differences in services provided by different levels of government cannot be considered to be discriminatory under the Act.
The Federal Court judgment on this case will have significant impact on the future of education funding for schools on reserve. On April 18, 2012, Justice Anne Mactavish set aside the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's original 2011 decision to dismiss a 2007 case and ordered that a "differently constituted panel" hear it.
Postmedia News reported that “… First Nations groups allege the federal government discriminates against aboriginal children by consistently underfunding services on reserves, leading - they contend - to poverty, poor housing, substance abuse and a vast over-representation of aboriginal children in state care”.
It is common knowledge that First Nations education in the Saskatchewan region has the same issue with underfunding. On reserve funding is on average $6500/student while provincial funding is on average $10,500/student. Caring society executive director Cindy Blackstock was "overjoyed that (Mactavish) looked at the balance of the evidence and saw what many Canadians saw, which is the complete obvious, that what's happening here is fundamentally wrong." The federal government has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
The challenge has been taken up by Quebec First Nations who are launching a similar Human Rights complaint aimed specifically at the funding of education on reserve. The FNEC Human Rights Complaint Participation letter 2012 is one way the Chiefs of FSIN can show their support of this cause. Vice Chief Bird invites dialogue with the Chiefs of Saskatchewan on this matter and encourages their participation in what is hoped to be a country-wide human rights complaint regarding the underfunding of First Nations education. The Human Rights Complaint on Education will be on the agenda at the SIETC meeting scheduled for June 7, 2012.
Joint Task Force
In 2011, the FSIN and the Government of Saskatchewan established the Joint Task Force (JTF) on Improving Education and Employment. The JTF will look at ways to improve educational outcomes on and off reserve and related labour market outcomes. Three provincial ministries, (Education, Advanced Learning and First Nations and Métis Relations) and the FSIN are involved in the Joint Task Force.
Through input from the Education Commission Chiefs and the Directors of Education Table and negotiation between Vice Chief Bird and Ministers Harpauer, Norris and Cheveldayoff, the three Task Force members and secretariat were chosen. The Chair is Gary Merasty: Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility at Cameco Corporation, former Canadian Member of Parliament, Grand Chief of Prince Albert Grand Council and educator. The two additional Task Force members are Rita Bouvier: Researcher/Writer and Community-learning Facilitator, and Don Hoium: Executive Director, League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents of Saskatchewan.
The Task Force Secretariat, selected through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, is the Saskatchewan Education Leadership Unit (SELU). The secretariat was engaged to carry out research and to provide the support for a series of JTF Community Dialogues that will be conducted for stakeholders in First Nations education both on and off-reserve. Chair of the JTF, Gary Merasty expects that the dialogues will allow the JTF members to engage in “authentic, deep conversations” with individuals, groups, communities and organizations in informal dialogues in person, online at the Joint Task Force website www.jointtaskforce.ca and in submissions. Watch the Joint Task Force website for updates on Community Discussion times and locations. Please note that ethical and spiritual protocols appropriate to each dialogue will be observed so that the work of the Joint Task Force is carried out in a good way for the benefit of education opportunities of all First Nations people in this region.
The Joint Task Force will deliver an interim report at the end of October or in early November 2012, in time for the Saskatchewan government to prepare for the 2013 budget. The final report of the Joint Task Force will be completed by early March 2013. Strong commitment has been expressed by the Saskatchewan government to act on the recommendations of the Joint Task Force. Vice Chief Bird intends to make sure that the Ministry’s of Education, Advanced Learning and FNMR hold to their word.
Over the next fiscal year a wide-reaching communication strategy will be employed to keep the grass-roots First Nations people up to date. Regular reports, as well as invitations for input, will be provided to the Saskatchewan Education and Training Commission, the Directors of Education and the Post-Secondary Education Coordinators and First Nations through the Chiefs Communique. Additional information will be available on www.fsin.com on the Education tab under Joint Task Force on Education.
On May 18, the Senior Officials Table: Gerry Hurton, ED FSIN Education and Training Secretariat, Mary Callele, FSIN lead for the JTF, and Deputy Ministers: Ron Crowe - FNMR, Clare Isman – Advanced Learning and Cheryl Senecal – Education, engaged in a conference call with the JTF members and Secretariat to review the draft work-plan, consultation format and communications strategies. The FSIN Education and Training Secretariat will also meet with the JTF panel members on May 25, 2012 to further discuss First Nations community engagement and key issues to be examined by the Joint Task Force.
On May 14, the JTF conducted an initial consultation with Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) Education representatives to receive feedback on the process as well as to provide an opportunity for input. The JTF indicated that additional engagement will be made with STC in the future. Upcoming Joint Task Force Community Discussions: Meadow Lake - May 22 at 7:00 P.M. Civic Centre, 420 3rd St E, Meadow Lake; Yorkton - May 29, time and location TBD; Fort Qu’Appelle - May 30, time and location TBD; Regina - May 31, time and location TBD.
Meeting Dates for Education:
May 22, 2012: Joint Task Force at Meadow Lake 7:00 P.M. Civic Centre, 420, 3rd St E.
May 29, 2012: Joint Task Force at Yorkton, time and location TBD
May 30, 2012: Joint Task Force at Fort Qu’Appelle, time and location TBD
May 31, 2012: Joint Task Force at Regina, time and location TBD
June 7, 2012: Saskatchewan Indian Education and Training Commission- Travelodge, Saskatoon
For further information: