Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement
On August 16, 2017, the Government of Canada and 23 Anishinabek Nation First Nations signed a historic self-government agreement on education. Achieved through over 20 years of negotiations, the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement is an important step out from under the Indian Act toward greater self-determination for the Participating First Nations.
The Agreement: An Overview
Under the Agreement, Participating First Nations will create the Anishinabek Education System. The Agreement recognizes Anishinabek law-making powers and authority over education on reserve from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 as well as administrative control over funding for post-secondary education.
The Anishinabek Education System . . .
- is designed by Anishinabek First Nations for Anishinabek students
- promotes Anishinaabe culture and language, which is vital to improving retention rates and academic achievement
- establishes system-wide education standards that will support the transfer of students between the Anishinabek Education System and the provincial education system
- creates clear roles and responsibilities for education matters and a system of accountability to First Nation members.
This initiative will set the stage for the Participating First Nations to develop culturally relevant and community-tailored education programs for the benefit of Anishinabek students.
The Path to Self-Government
Negotiations between Canada and the Anishinabek Nation began in 1995. In 2002, the parties reached a non-binding Agreement-in-Principle that set out the key elements for potential inclusion in a Final Agreement.
During the negotiations, the Anishinabek Nation and Participating First Nations undertook extensive consultations and information sharing with community members. With support from the Government of Ontario, outreach was also undertaken with local school boards.
Negotiations on the final agreement, the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement, concluded in 2015.
The Community Approval Process
Following a year-long information campaign, community votes were held in 29 Anishinabek First Nations from November 2016 to January 2017, on the proposed Agreement. The members of 14 Anishinabek First Nations voted to approve the agreement, with an average of 97 percent of those who cast ballots voting in favour.
While vote results for other communities were overwhelmingly positive, ratification requirements were not met because not enough voters cast ballots. A second community vote was held in summer 2017, with a majority of members of 9 First Nations voting in favour of the Agreement. This means that a total of 23 Anishinabek First Nations are part of the Anishinabek Education System.
The Agreement sets out a process for other Anishinabek Nation First Nations and other First Nations in Ontario to join the Anishinabek Education System in the future should they choose to do so.
Now that the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement is signed by the parties, the next step is to develop and pass federal legislation recognizing the Agreement and giving it the force of law. The parties will then agree on a date for the Final Agreement to come into effect and work together to implement it. The Participating First Nations will also develop their own education laws to support the Anishinabek Education System.
After the Agreement takes effect, certain sections of the Indian Act that deal with education will no longer apply to the Participating First Nations. Decision-making power over education will rest in the hands of the First Nations under the new Anishinabek Education System.
The Anishinabek Education System at a Glance
The Participating First Nations will enact education laws that govern the Anishinabek Education System and the delivery of programs and services. The Participating First Nations will work together through a central administrative structure called the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body (KEB).
The KEB will provide support to First Nations in their delivery of education programs and services and liaise with the Province of Ontario on education matters.
The Anishinabek Education System also includes Regional Education Councils (REC), groups of First Nations based on geographic proximity. The REC provides opportunities for networking, for determining First Nation and regional education priorities and to select the KEB Board of Directors from that region.
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