AFN Report says natives should control own schools -

AFN Report says natives should control own schools

Says native languages should be taught at all Canadian schools


The Assembly of First Nations has issued a report that says native Canadians should have total control over native schools and that non-native schools should be “required to teach aboriginal language and culture.” The federal government and native leaders first agreed to work together to improve native education in 1972 with the Indian Control of Indian Education agreement. But according to the AFN, not much has improved. They say high school graduation rates for native children have only reached 48 per cent. The report blames low graduation rates on non-native curricula.

CBC News

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AFN Report says natives should control own schools

  1. "…native Canadians should have total control over native schools and that non-native schools should be “required to teach aboriginal language and culture.”

    (1) Anyone born in Canada is a "native Canadian". You mean "Aboriginal Canadian". The Need-to-Know writer strikes again!

    (2) If Aboriginal tribes should have total control over Aboriginal schools, doesn't it also follow that non-Aboriginals should have total control over non-Aboriginal schools? Why, therefore, should non-Aboriginal schools be forced to teach Aboriginal language and culture?

    • Agree 100%!

    • "Why, therefore, should non-Aboriginal schools be forced to teach Aboriginal language and culture?"

      Presumably, schools teach Aboriginal language and culture because it is part of the curriculum – although I have not had any experience with these subjects as a student or parent, so I'm not sure of the contex. It's not part of the curriculum because it is a part of the Constitution, so I fail to see how it is "forced" on them. Someone in authority, rightly or wrongly, has chosen to include it in their curriculum.

      • The AFN report is arguing that all schools in Canada be required to teach Aboriginal language and culture, i.e. they are arguing that it should be mandated as part of every curriculum regardless of what those who design and use the curriculum actually think.

        • I'm blind. Thanks for your patience.

  2. We saw what happened in Saskatchewan when Aboriginal Canadians controlled their own university. It went under do to corruption and nepotism and the standard of education was well below normal University standards.

  3. What the statement seems to be indicating, though admittedly neither you or I have fully read the policy proposal, is that language classes be provided for those students, aboriginal or otherwise, wish to learn the language. Secondly, what is wrong with having taught to students aboriginal culture? As a settler society, built through colonization and maintained through state violence, teaching settlers some aspects of aboriginal culture (which influences and informs some of their governance structures, policy proposals and as such, helps to shed light on the nature and content of aboriginal struggles) would be beneficial for all, leading ultimately, one would hope, better relations between the two sides.

    • I am a native Canadian, Who gave you the right to arbitrarily downgrade me to "settler "status? Can you detail some or any of the maintained state violence you imagine? Aboriginals have to stop handicaping thier own kids by denigrating all things "white" including education,Apologists like you are a big part of the problem

      • II think you misread him. WE (non-native) are the settlers. And anyway, what's wrong with everyone (native and non-native alike) having a choice to study a native language or two? I don't know what First Nation you are from, but "kee na dis nageen"?

  4. Aboriginal parents, like many other parents, are responsible for low graduation rates. Blaming the curricula, though a popular tactic, is becoming quite ridiculous. Do recent immigrant kids from Asia do really well in our schools because the curricula reflects their culture? The answer is No, they do well because their parents expect them to do well.
    This is just another cynical attempt by aboriginal Chiefs to grab more money and have more power over others.

  5. Has anyone here tried to hire students of aboriginal run schools? I have and I can tell you that the graduation rates may be higher however the grade 10 or 12 certificate that they carry should really be about a grade 6 or 8. I had a native boy at my house this week. He is going into grade 6 and cannot read a thing, not a thing, guess who runs the school he attends. You should ask the people of Fond du Lac, Saskatchewan what happened to the school when the new Chief fired all of the white teachers mid-term in about 2005.
    Aboriginal schools are a farce and completely unnecessary which is proven by the number of kids who come from other countries to go to school here and do very well.

    • And rather than question this, or raise the issue with his school, or his parents, you come online and share your comment on this issue based entirely on your ONE experience with this ONE boy?

      Well then. I guess you're smarter than him?

      Are you seriously suggesting that our 18 year old graduates are mentally 11-13 years of age? REALLY?? How embarrassing for you, 'wafer'. Your logic astounds me.

      • What I found quite interesting is that he has four thumbs up …….

  6. nick, learn the history of the continent before you ask stupid questions. settlers, in the context of the americas, are those who come from other lands to settle (i.e. set up shop) on lands that have been acquired through colonization, conquest, and more often than not, genocide. Canada, and again, this is shared throughout the americas, is a borne of a particularly virile form of colonialism: settler-colonialism. As this implies, the colonial power doesn't simply wish to exploit the resources of a given territory, but to permanently establish itself, and perpetuate itself, through colonial settlement. Last time I checked, Canada has never had an anti-colonial revolution or, even at the very least, attempted to shed the colonial structures that lie just beneath its liberal democratic veneer. As such, what we have in Canada, and elsewhere, is a context of ONGOING colonialism. In summation then, given this ongoing colonialism, those who are not indigenous to the land, but simply happen to be born here because those that came before them settled here, retain the status of settler. think about it.

    • baased on DNA tracing, All the indigenous populations of Canada came from some where else, it is only a matter of time frame. Why do you limit yourself to a couple of hundred years?are you really claiming that we are some how tainted until we have an anti colonial uprising ? I think you've spent too much time around academics..

      • I think you've spent too little time around academics, judging from what you've managed to produce thus far. We all know that the species originated from Africa, so in that we are agreed. The emphasis I have been putting is on the relationship between those who have been here 20,000 years or so, who had established their own legal and land tenure systems, forms of political and administrative control, and particular economies, and those who, having come here on the backs of the most powerful empire of the time, suppressed these nations, and subsumed them within what is now the state of Canada. Given the context in which those institutions alluded to above are suppressed, and indigenous peoples dispossessed from their very lands and resources upon which a future economy and stable social system potentially exist, this is the colonialism which indigenous peoples confront. They are fighting against a settler-colonial state, and settler control over their patrimony. So when I say settler I am referring to those who have only been here, like you say, a couple hundred years -yet who manage to enjoy all the benefits and bounty of the land -and those who have been here 20,000 or so, and who enjoy comparatively less. So unless the relationship changes -South Africa is a good example -where the whites there shed their "settler" status when they agreed to transform the structure of the colonial state and accommodate the indigenous population there- those only here "a couple hundred years" will still be settlers. This is a relational concept, so try and think of it as such.

  7. It makes sense that there would be greater information given to students regarding Native culture. The Natives are a part of the history of this land, and education should include more history lessons in general. Forgetting the Natives were here is part of ignoring their current existence and issues, and is shameful.

    I totally disagree, though, that Native languages should be taught in schools in communities without a major Native presence. Native languages have very little use, and much more could be achieved in terms of economic viability by increasing fluency in both of Canada's official languages, which are international languages and intrinsic to the federal bureaucracy. If a non-native community wanted instruction in a native language, then allowing it as a high school elective credit seems a reasonable response.

    It goes without saying that Natives should control their own schools, particularly in the context of schools Natives have historically been taught in, where abuse was widespread. How many of us living in Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto, or elsewhere, would accept the idea that someone else would run our schools for us and we would have no direct input? If Native schools are not doing well now, that probably has a lot to do with the time it takes to build infrastructure and human capital in a society that's been colonised for centuries. With time, effort, and support, they will be able to right their own course.

    • Then all members of my local school board have to be from my culture? Is the excellent work done by board members of asiatic ancestry to be discarded to fit your silly ideology? aboriginal parents have the same rights for input as any group, the question is why don't they make use of it. The high school I attended did offer Salish as a language option it was discontinued due to poor enrollment

      • Nice strawman, Nick. I never said anything to the effect that schools should be made up of only one ethnicity. I said that Natives should have the right to control their own schools. Just like you do already with the one your children go to, when you vote for trustees, for example. Forget my 'silly' ideology- what about your racist ideology, your apartheid, that gives you rights you deny to others? You may be comfortable colonising others, but the rest of us have some morals.

  8. if i study and learn an aboriginal language….wonder if that means i can work in australia only…and native to what you say?

  9. control their own schools? you mean that or are ya just kidding….shucks they cant control anything else and they wanna control their education? gawd a tad late is it not?
    might make money for linguists and others but here we go again…. that darn aboriginal industry! that is what gives this mess some meaning and purpose….top keep this industry alive

  10. “required to teach aboriginal language and culture.”

    That makes it sound like there's just one "aboriginal language". But surely there are dozens. So all public schools would need to teach all of them? Sounds like a make-work program (at public expense) for literate First Nationals.

  11. First, to all the comments, Education is freedom, when you have an education you have the freedom to make choices to better yourself, your family and your community. First Nations people are looking for the freedom to make good choices, for it wasn't until the early 80s, when the last Residential School closed, we were allowed to make those choices for ourselves. We need to truly understand one another, before we judge the shoes we walk in. I understand one thing first and foremost, I love all the people who made the comments, positive or negative, because we are all human first and foremost, as humans we make mistakes, some tough to get over. This is what I understand, this is the education I have along with academic education. Please read our company blog at again education is freedom, allow us first nations people to make our choices for that freedom, I love you all and lets have peace of mind…..

    • I agree with you, Peter. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We ought to recognize our mistakes and resolve to do better and try to make right those things we made wrong in the past. As far as we can compensate for damages done. Then go forward together, continually improving ourselves and others.

  12. This is another feel-good proposal that looks good on paper, but will be an expensive fiasco in practice. Most schools will accomplish nothing except lining the pockets of their administrators. Even if a few succeed in teaching nineteenth-century skill sets and radical political views, their graduates will still be poorly equipped for life in twentyfirst-century Canada.

    Although many residential schools were poorly run, the idea of integrating native Canadians into the larger society is a sound one. The insistence on ever-more funding and autonomy in order to maintain this policy of apartness is a dead end that perpetuates misery among natives and resentment among non-natives.

    As for teaching aboriginal language and culture, schools are already overburdened with essential subjects. I would much prefer that any child of mine learn Chinese or Russian or Arabic or Spanish.

    • Well said Howard. The aboriginal leaders have seldom chosen to spread the goodies to the poorest in the band as far as I can see. They would have to demonstrate a lot more responsibility before school monies are put in their hands.

      This whole subject is full of so much politically correct BS that it sickens one. I really admire those who have done good things (Osoyoos for example) but they are the exception . Casinos are not the answer either.

      I have spoken to some Indians who said the residential school they went to was not like they are painted and that she actually got a good education. Good enough for her to go on to university and then law school, so I heard.

      And there is no way that teaching non-Indian kids an aboriginal language is of any use eithert economically. Which of several hundred dialects to choose? It is a non starter.

      • By your logic, Blacktop, no more money should go into public schooling in non-Native parts of Canada considering the ongoing, entrenched, and well-documented pockets of poverty that exist in any of our major cities. It's not as if Natives are the only groups who have to deal with elites trying to feather their own nests.

        Why all the prerequisites before you're willing to allow them to run their own affairs? Would you accept other people dictating to you in that manner? Has it never occurred to you that perhaps the paternalism with which you propose to treat Natives has had a negative impact on their ability to manage their own affairs? This is exactly the debilitating effect of colonialism that plagues Native communities, and the sooner they're responsible for their own destiny the better. Democracy- a radical idea!

    • Why do you think that Natives don't want to be a part of larger society? Why does learning a Native language mean you can't be a part of broader Canadian society? They're not suggesting these people be unilingual and only speak a Native language, they're calling for schools that will probably be run the majority of the time in English or French with some courses in the Native language, just like how you spend about an hour a day learning French but do the rest of your work in English in non-Native schools. Fear of such a thing reeks of either paranoia or latent racism, IMO.

      And your last paragraph is exactly the point. You get to choose what languages your children learn. At the very least, you have influence. Why shouldn't Natives have the same? Why do you get more rights than they do?

  13. Another set of language police. Bigger packaging to acommodate three official languages, longer ceremonies to have equal exposures of all languages, and more taxes to pay for changes, implementation, and bureaucracy. As Ignatieff says, we are a rich country, so we should have money for everything.

  14. A white South African couldn't have said it better, and I'm not simply referring to your regurgitation of the colonizer's favourite myth in your last paragraph. Where are you getting your information from, tom flanagan? that's the only source I can think of off the top of my head who lists the figures you cite. In fact, most archeologists and geologists base their estimates on the time frame in which the land basin (currently subsumed under the waters separating Asia from Alaska) was above water level which in turn provided the means by which populations could first cross and then disseminate across the continent…a process much closer to the dates I have provided, and a working date used by historians, indigenous and otherwise, many of whom are neither partisans of either side.

    Leaving for now your wild assertion that the Iroquois were responsible for the destruction of the apache -a nation living in the mexican/US borderlands that was finally subdued only at the turn of the 20th century while the Iroquois-themselves from upstate New York, Quebec and parts of Ontario- were by this time wholly dispossessed and forced into Canada- it would be a mistake to conflate European and indigenous warfare. It got worse with the addition of then modern European weaponry no doubt, and again worsened even more in the west with the decline of the buffalo economy, but i'll have to ask you to read about the differences, the sources on which are readily available to anyone competent (or willing) enough to find them.

    And again, your insistence that those in North America were simply a small number of hunter gathers is equally inaccurate. Demographers, particularly from the 1970s onward, in addition to the accounts of early travelers, explorers and fighters, are replete with visual, archeological evidence of vast settled, permanent and semi-permanent agrarian societies. This was true for most of south america and the united states, as well as for Canada, though here primarily in British Columbia, parts of south eastern quebec, and certain bands of the ojibway. Again, this info is all readily available, published in referred journals and peer reviewed scholarly publishers.

    so read up instead of simply hurling epitaphs over an anonymous forum. at the very least, i can assure you that it will be much more worth your while.

  15. Blacktop, are you really that ignorant? How can you blame the parents of children who went to residential schools for the children who didn't do well there, when the children were taken forcibly from the homes of their parents? That's *why* they were RESIDENTIAL schools to begin with- the children were forced to reside there after they were forcibly stolen from the homes of their parents. How were the parents supposed to help with anything when their children lived elsewhere and they had little to no contact with them?

    And whites didn't set up residential schools 'to teach that stuff', if you mean Native languages and culture. They set up the schools specifically to assimilate the children into white culture. The children were forbidden to speak their own mother tongues and were beaten if they did! They were only allowed to speak English or French. That's why so many Native languages today are dying off! There never have been schools set up by the Canadian gov't that attempted to teach Natives their own languages, this is just a figment of your imagination. And this process of gov't assimilation didn't stop until after the Constitution was patriated in 1982 because stealing children from people's homes and then forcing them not to speak their own languages broke too many laws. These new schools that are being proposed aren't ending the teaching of English or French, they're reintroducing the Native languages alongside, just like a French immersion school where you graduate fluent in two languages. There's nothing wrong with that at all, it offers the best of both worlds to the children.