Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Chief Thomas Bressette.       – Photo by Monica Lister

Kettle and Stony Point First Nation Chief Thomas Bressette. – Photo by Monica Lister

By Kelly Crawford and Tammy Desmoulin

NIPISSING FIRST NATION – Anishinabek Chiefs in Assembly passed a resolution to “vehemently reject the imposition of Canada’s proposed bill, the First Nation’s Education Act and reaffirm their commitment to the development of an Anishinabek Education System, jurisdiction and education of their children as they see best”.

“It is time we start acting like who we say we are. I want my grandchildren to be proud of who they are and not feel like second-class citizens. We have to act like Nations and take control of things that impact us every day,” said Chief Tom Bressette of Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation.

Nipissing First Nation’s complex in Garden Village was packed with Chiefs and participants. Chiefs of the Anishinabek Nation unanimously rejected the federal government’s draft proposal of the First Nations Education Act. Chiefs and participants showed overwhelming support for the Anishinabek Education System.

“Wake up, don’t just lay there like cold granite stone. This is our glorious opportunity to address the issue. You look at the cold granite stone as Indian Affairs or the federal government. Let’s wake up and don’t just lay there” said Curve Lake Councillor Keith Knott.

Youth representatives Nathalie Restoule and Quinn Meawasige attended both days and provided invaluable insight on youth perspectives.

“The First Nation Education Act is almost like residential school all over again. They say – ‘Here, this is what is best for you’.  The Anishinabek Education System is what we know is best for us. It is going to grow healthy children,” said Quinn Meawasige.

Chiefs and participants heard presentations from the Education Working Group and Tracey O’Donnell, Lead Education Negotiator, on the next steps for establishing the Anishinabek Education System. A strategic plan for advancing the establishment of the Anishinabek Education system is currently being implemented.

Education Working Group (EWG) members presented at the Assembly discussing their experiences sitting on the EWG.

“We met a lot of challenges in this process but we got over it. If we didn’t keep on with this, we wouldn’t have the alternate options against the Education Act. This whole process has inspired Long Lake # 58. We built a school without the blessings and help of the government” said Judy Desmoulin, EWG member.

Chief Peter Collins commended Judy Desmoulin and the work of Long Lake #58. “When we talk about education, we need to have healthy kids and healthy minds”. Fran Couchie, EWG member recounted her experience with the EWG since 2007.

“We are doing good things in our communities and there is still more to come”.

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