By Rick Garrick
LONG LAKE #58—Long Lake Chief Veronica Waboose says more control over curriculum and education spending will be among the benefits of signing on with the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement.
“We can teach [our students] the history of our own Native culture and our way of life before instead of learning about the history of explorers way back when they came and discovered Canada,” Waboose says. “We could talk about our own people that were here way before anybody came. That’s something our children should be learning.”
Waboose says the community already takes the youth out onto land for fasting, vision quest, and pipe ceremonies, as well as hunting and fishing outings. The community also has its own on-reserve school for students up to Grade 12.
“They are different out there,” Waboose says. “Because that’s who they are, that’s their way of life. As you grow older, like me, I’m an Elder now; I feel it calling me back over there. When the children learn about who they are, what their history was, that’s when they are proud.”
Waboose says the AES will enable the community’s school board to disperse money for education initiatives.
“It’s going to benefit our children more because we will be able to oversee the money,” Waboose says. “It will come directly from the board to our education.”
Waboose says the band council looks forward to the AES Ratification Vote, which is scheduled for Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.
“We’re doing our best to give [the community] information,” Waboose says. “Let’s do something to help our children. What I envision in the future is for them to stand tall and walk proud of who they are.”
Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee encourages community members to learn more about the Say Yes to AES campaign and to get out and vote during the Ratification Vote.
“This means more per-student funding,” Madahbee says. “This is for our children.”
The Anishinabek Nation has been running a Say Yes to AES campaign since November 2015.
Information about the proposed agreement with Canada, fiscal arrangements and the Anishinabek Education System can be found online.
The benefits of ratifying the Education Agreement for communities with schools include having full control over all aspects of education from JK to Grade 12 and the opportunity to develop and implement Anishinabek curriculum and education standards. Eight other benefits are also listed on the Say Yes to AES website.
The benefits of ratifying the Education Agreement for communities without schools include the development of a new relationship with provincial school boards to enhance student success and well-being and the opportunity to develop and implement curriculum changes in the provincial education system.