PM unveils retooled First Nations education plan

Friday, February 7, 2014
Bill Graveland
The Canadian Press

STANDOFF, Alta. -- The federal government has unveiled a retooled education plan for First Nations which it says recognizes aboriginal control over schooling.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the plan at a high school on the Blood reserve in southern Alberta on Friday.

"This is historic and it is a great day for Canada, for First Nations communities and for the next generation," Harper said. "But it is also long overdue."

The plan calls for minimum education standards consistent with provincial standards off-reserve. It also says students will have to meet attendance requirements and teachers will have to be properly certified.

Ottawa is to provide funding for core education, which includes language and cultural instruction, of $1.25 billion over three years starting in 2016. There's a provision for a 4.5 per cent annual increase.

Another $500 million over seven years is to go toward infrastructure and $160 million over four years is set aside for implementation.

The Assembly of First Nations called the deal the beginning of a new era for First Nations children.

"Today is about ... fairness, opportunity and hope for First Nations children, youth and students," said the assembly's national Chief Sean Atleo.

"Today is a victory for First Nations leaders and citizens who have for decades, indeed since the first generation of residential school survivors, called for First Nations control of First Nations education."

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