First Nations in Ontario are closer to controlling their own education.  It’s the result of the federal government introducing legislation that will turn the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement into law.  Grand Council Chief Pat Madahbee is pleased with the development because he says education can solve many challenges and issues.  Once passed, the legislation, known as Bill C-61, will give First Nations the authority to hold classroom education on reserves from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12.  It will parallel Ontario’s education system.  Under the agreement, reliable funding will be in place to operate the onreserve classes.

The agreement initially covers 23 First Nations in Ontario but is designed to let more Aboriginal communities opt in if they want in the future.   Madahbee says the next step is to ensure the legislation passes quickly so the First Nation education system can be operational by next April 1st.  Once the education agreement takes effect it means specific provisions in the Indian Act that govern education will no longer apply to the initial 23 First Nations.  The issue of First Nation control of education is one Aboriginal communities have pursued for years.  Madahbee calls the agreement historic and sets the stage for a brighter and stronger future for Indigenous children.