UBCIC argues First Nations education legislation threatens BC education agreement

March 27, 2013

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) says the federal government's proposed First Nations Education Act will override a tripartite education agreement signed between the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and the federal and BC governments last year. Phillip, who earlier this month attended Aboriginal Affairs' Session on Canada's Proposed National First Nations Education Act in Vancouver, says "this short shrift process threatens existing education jurisdiction agreements and is a continuation of the Harper Government's attack on our collective and inherent Title, Rights and Treaty Rights." BC is the only province that has signed a tripartite First Nations agreement between the provincial and federal governments and local First Nations. The agreement promises an increase in annual federal education funding by $15 million for reserve schools, bringing them to about the same funding level as public schools in BC. The provincial side of the agreement includes working with FNESC to provide a seamless transition for students moving between reserve and public schools, as well as provincial graduation certificates for students who graduate from secondary school on reserve. But all that could be tossed by the wayside should federal legislation be passed. "It's an agreement, so legislation could trump (it), the agreement is five years. So we're into year one. We see long-term the legislation can displace the work that's been done in BC," says FNESC's executive director. UBCIC News Release | The Tyee