HARPER MUST MAKE SHANNEN’S DREAM A REALITY

First Nations schools receive less than provincial systems; NDP motion calls for equal funding

OTTAWA – New Democrats today tackled the inequality the plagues First Nations education by introducing a motion calling on the government to close the funding gap between what First Nation schools receive from and what provincial school systems receive.

“First Nations students are living as second-class citizens,” said New Democrat Leader Nycole Turmel. “There’s simply no excuse for why First Nations students receive less from the government than everyone else. Stephen Harper is selling their futures short.”

Turmel pointed out that the graduation rates of First Nations students is nearly half that of other students, and cited poorly funded schools on reserves as a major cause. The Harper Conservatives maintain a punitive 2 per cent funding cap on First Nations education.

“It’s unacceptable that, in a country as wealthy as Canada, First Nations children can’t even get the kind of quality education that other students take for granted,” Turmel said.

The New Democrat motion calls for the government declare that First Nations students have an equal right to quality education, and to work with First Nations leaders on an action plan that ensures students on reserves receive a properly funded, culturally sensitive education.

“First Nations students have heard many promises over the years—but they are still waiting for action,” said New Democrat MP Jonathan Genest-Jourdain (Manicouagan), who introduced the motion. “Our motion lays out a practical action plan to give First Nations students the education they deserve.”