A "life-changing" approach to educating Indigenous children
in 23 Ontario First Nations, emphasizing aboriginal culture and
language, is to go into effect next spring.
The stage for the Anishinabek Nation System was set in mid-December
following the passage in the Senate of the Anishinabek Nation Education
Agreement, or Bill C-61.
The agreement is the result of 20 years of activism towards
"delivering culturally-relevant and community-tailored education
programs and services for the benefit of current and future generations
of Anishinabek students," an Anishinabek Nation news release says.
"This includes promoting Anishinaabe culture and language."
The official implementation date is April 1.
Anishinabek Nation, formerly the Union of Ontario Indians, is
headquartered near North Bay.
The agreement passed into on Dec. 14 demonstrates that "Canada
recognizes First Nation jurisdiction," added the release.
"Now we have to take the words off the page and create an education
system that supports Anishinabek student success and well-being."
Of the 23 participating First Nations, four are in Northwestern
Ontario: Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (Rocky Bay) Long Lake,
Pic Mobert and (Biigtigong Nishnaabeg) Pic River.
Bay Community Centre
Some schools are more advanced than others in terms of fitting
Indigenous culture and perspectives into the provincial curriculum.
And some, like Long Lake and Pic River, already have their own school
boards in addition to their own schools.
The incoming education system appears poised to boost what's
already been happening at many First Nation-run schools in the province.
Indigenous students are being encouraged to "take pride in their
culture and heritage," while increasing their "knowledge of Indigenous
history and treaties," one educator put it.
The spirit and practical aspects of the Anishinabek system will
be backed by the existing Kinoomaadziwin Education Body (KEB,) which
was created in 2010, as well as regional councils.
"The KEB will support participating First Nations in their delivery
of education programs and services" as well as liaise with provincial
educational officials, said the release.