ROJBy ROJ Staff

The education negotiations are in high gear now, moving forward to finalize the draft arrangements with Canada this fiscal year. Negotiators are finalizing the text of the draft Anishinabek Nation Final Agreement on Education and the fiscal negotiations.

Canada presented its fiscal offer on education on December 20, 2012,  over six years after the Anishinabek Nation presented its first fiscal offer to Canada.  Canada’s offer is being analyzed and a counter-offer is being drafted.

The Anishinabek Nation education negotiations team is continuing to meet with Ontario under the Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2009, to advance the practical arrangements required for the Anishinabek Education System and the Ontario publicly-funded education system to coordinate the delivery of quality education programs and services to Anishinabek students.

In the last couple of months, the Anishinabek team has met with representatives from the province’s Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and the Ministry of Education to discuss the possibility of negotiating an education agreement with the intention of jointly addressing practical matters to close the large and persistent gap in First Nation student achievement.  Fewer than half of First Nation youth graduate from high school, compared to close to 80 per cent of other Canadian children, and some 70 per cent do not have a post secondary degree or diploma.

The proposed education agreement with Ontario will not replace the existing tuition agreements or education agreements between First Nations and their local school boards.

Some of the topics under discussion with Ontario include access to professional development opportunities; establishment of clear and consistent standards; requirements and terms for reciprocal or reverse tuition agreements under which off-reserve students may attend school on-reserve; better integration of First Nations history and culture into the provincial curriculum and resources for teaching the new curriculum; establishment of  data collection, data management and data sharing agreements;  and a commitment by the province to investing tuition payments into the First Nation education initiative.

Ontario does not currently have a mandate to enter into negotiations with the Anishinabek Nation on education.  Anishinabek negotiators are awaiting confirmation on whether these negotiations will proceed.  These are separate from the ongoing negotiations with Canada on education jurisdiction and fiscal relations. The negotiations with Canada are not dependent on securing a formal agreement with Ontario.  For more information visit http://www.anishinabek.ca/roj/index.asp