Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Chief Duncan Michano with a Say Yes to AES  > folder calling for Anishinabek Control of Anishinabek Education.

Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Chief Duncan Michano with a Say Yes to AES information kit calling for Anishinabek Control of Anishinabek Education.

By Rick Garrick

OJIBWAYS OF THE PIC RIVER FIRST NATION—Biigtigong Nishnaabeg Chief Duncan Michano says self-government and control over education are key reasons for his community to sign on with the Anishinabek Education System (AES).

“It’s a step in the right direction in regards to self-government,” Michano says. “And that is something that, I think, all Anishinabek people aspire to. We were in the process anyway of doing our constitution — we just hurried it up so that we could get on board with the AES. But we were heading in that direction anyway because what we had wanted [was] to develop our own laws and develop a new custom voting system.”

Michano says the AES will enable the community to control its own education system.

“One of the things that we had already been in the process of doing was rewriting our curriculum to look at land-based learning,” Michano says. “So it gives us a lot more control of what we are doing and how we present our programs at the elementary school level in particular.”

Michano says elementary school students currently attend a school in the community while secondary school students attend a school outside of the community. Biigtigong Nishnaabeg is currently building a new school that will be attached to the present daycare centre.

“…We’ll have the ability to put the children in at one end in the daycare and teach them right on until they’re up to Grade 8, and then probably not too long in the future even [Grade] nine and ten,” Michano says. “I see lots of benefit to it. If we have our children in there up until the Grade nine and ten level, we will be able to rewrite our own curriculum and have more land-based programming.”

Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee encourages community members to learn more about the Say Yes to AES campaign and the benefits that come with ratifying. He also encourages community members to get out and vote during the Ratification Vote week, which takes place from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.

“This means more per-student funding,” Madahbee says. “This is for our children.”

The Anishinabek Nation has been running the 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 at the Say Yes to the AES website.

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 in addition to 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, as well as the opportunity to develop and implement curriculum changes in the provincial education system. Additional benefits can be found on the Say Yes to the AES website.