Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015
The National Aboriginal Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students supports the recommendations included in the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and stands in solidarity with survivors of and those living with the intergenerational effects of the residential school system. We also support all those who continue to be affected by ongoing violence, systemic racism, and colonialism.
Canadian government policies actively caused cultural genocide, producing generational harm to Aboriginal peoples, families and their communities across the country, the effects of which are not only present but pervasive today.
Until the 1940s, First Nations people had to give up their status and rights as a “registered Indian” in order to receive funding to attend post-secondary institutions. Today, thousands of Aboriginal people are turned away for lack of funding, and thousands more are ineligible as no funding is provided to ‘non-status’ First Nations, Métis or Inuit students, which is a direct violation of treaty, constitutional, and Aboriginal rights.
Access to post-secondary education plays a pivotal role in the creation of a more equitable country, and is a right that must be respected and re-affirmed on a federal level. Funding for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) has lagged behind skyrocketing tuition fees and growing numbers of Aboriginal youth for years. This directly created educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.
The National Aboriginal Caucus (NAC) of the Federation is the voice for Aboriginal students and communities in Canada. NAC unites Aboriginal students across the country to advocate for the interests of Aboriginal students in removing all barriers faced when pursuing post-secondary education.
The Federation commits to continuing these efforts, as well as supporting the implementation of these necessary steps for reconciliation, including but not limited to;
“7. We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate education and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians;
10. We call upon the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples;
11. We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First nations students seeking a post-secondary education;
16. We call upon post-secondary institutions to create university and college degree and diploma programs in Aboriginal Language;
41. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal organizations, to appoint a public inquiry into the causes of, and remedies for, the disproportionate victimization of Aboriginal women and girls. The inquiry’s mandate would include:
i. Investigation into missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls.
ii. Links to the intergenerational legacy of residential schools;
43. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial and municipal governments to fully adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the framework for reconciliation; and
62. ii. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.”
The Federation recognizes the absolute sovereignty of Aboriginal communities in self-determination, cultural practices, and spiritual and traditional beliefs. In creating roadmaps for decolonization, the Federation will continue to centre the voices of Aboriginal students and Elders in setting priorities for these actions and successes of all Aboriginal peoples.
The National Aboriginal Caucus will work alongside the Federation and strive to ensure that these recommendations are implemented by the federal government and will continue adding pressure through actions and mobilizations across the country until we see them fulfilled.
– National Aboriginal Caucus, on behalf of the Canadian Federation of Students
Read the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission here- http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf