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  NEWS RELEASE 

For Immediate Release

2007EDU0161-001500

Nov. 22, 2007

Ministry of Education

First Nations Education Steering Committee

 

FIRST NATIONS STUDENTS BENEFIT FROM HISTORIC AGREEMENT

 


VICTORIA – The Province introduced historic legislation today that recognizes participating First Nations’ jurisdiction over education on First Nations land in British Columbia and supports First Nations student achievement and lifelong learning.

 

“The First Nations Education Act is an important milestone in B.C.’s education system,” said Education Minister Shirley Bond. “This legislation will ensure that First Nations students have an opportunity to reach their full potential.”

 

The Province of B.C., the First Nations Education Steering Committee and Canada signed the Education Jurisdiction Framework Agreement in July 2006. Through this agreement, and subsequent federal enabling legislation, Canada has recognized First Nations’ power to make laws over education on their own lands. B.C.’s legislation formally recognizes that right and enables boards of education and independent schools to enter into education agreements with participating First Nations.

 

“The passage of the provincial legislation will be a significant milestone in the recognition of First Nations jurisdiction over First Nations education in British Columbia,” said Nathan Matthew, chief negotiator. “It will provide for continued effective working relations between First Nations and the Province.”

 

Benefits of this legislation also include the following:

o      Enables on-reserve First Nations schools to have their own system of Kindergarten to Grade 12 education, based on provincial curriculum learning outcomes for core courses leading to graduation;

o      Enables Participating First Nations who have granted their own graduation certificates to apply to have students receive the provincial graduation certificate, called the Dogwood Certificate;

o      Establishes the First Nations Education Authority as a regulatory body for teacher certification, school certification and curriculum and exam standards;

o      Guarantees Ministry of Education consultation with the First Nations Education Authority as part of a general consultation on education policy, legislation, and standards changes that affect First Nations education; and

o      Provides access for First Nations schools to the British Columbia College of Teachers Employment registry.

 

“Aboriginal student success is very important to this government as we believe education plays a crucial role in developing the tools to succeed in life,” said Bond. “It is our hope that, by developing partnerships and finding new and improved ways to deliver services to students, achievement will increase.”

 

The new legislation also fulfils commitments made in the bilateral British Columbia-First Nations Education Agreement, which was also signed in July 2006 and which recognized the importance of students being able to transfer between participating First Nations schools and public schools, and of graduates being eligible for admission to post-secondary institutions.

 

Celebrating the introduction of the new legislation were education partners from the First Nations Education Steering Committee, the First Nations Leadership Council and First Nations schools.

 

“This legislation is a big step towards assisting First Nations students to be educated in their communities, learning their language, and retaining their culture,” said Dawn McGuire-Reeves, principal of the Snuneymuxw First Nation’s Qwam Qwum Stalicut band-operated school in Nanaimo.

 

A cornerstone of the Province’s Pacific Leadership Agenda is the building of new relationships with B.C.’s First Nations to conclude treaties and close the gaps in health, housing, education, and economic opportunities. In the speech from the throne, government committed to take steps to meet the needs of the almost half of Aboriginal students who do not complete school. This legislation is one step government is taking towards fulfilling that commitment.

 

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 1 backgrounder(s) attached.

 

 

Media

contact:

Lara Perzoff

Public Affairs Bureau

Ministry of Education

250 356-5963

250 920-9040 (cell)

Jan Haugen

Manager of Executive Services

First Nations Education Steering Committee

604-612-5361 (cell)

 

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