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Nova Scotia to close aboriginal education gap

Mi'kmaq and aboriginal students to get liaison office

Nova Scotia is moving to close what it sees as an educational gap for the province’s Mi’kmaq and aboriginal students. Education Minister Karen Casey has accepted the key recommendations from a review of her department’s Mi’kmaq Services Division.A new Mi’kmaq Liaison Office will be set up and given a stronger voice at the department’s senior management table, Casey said in a release Thursday. “I recognize that the department needs to continue to respond to the changing needs of the community,” said Casey. “It is clear to me that we need to improve the level of service we provide Mi’kmaq and other aboriginal students.”

The review, which concluded in October, recommended improvements in five key areas, including communications, structure, policy, service delivery and curriculum. The liason office’s responsibilities will expand beyond supporting students in public schools to include post-secondary education and skills training.

It will also help identify educational needs for aboriginal students and develop programs to address them.

The minister’s response calls for the development of a provincewide Mi’kmaq Student Support Worker Network and provides opportunity for more direct community involvement in development of language curriculum.

Daniel Paul, chair of the Council on Mi’kmaq Education, said he was pleased with the minister’s response.

“It is a very positive move,” he said. “The Mi’kmaq community will now have a stronger role in the educational decision-making process for our students, he said.

Representatives from Nova Scotia’s 13 First Nations bands, the Native Council of Nova Scotia, the Council on Mi’kmaq Education and the Mi’kmaq Native Friendship Centre were all consulted.

-with a report from CP