That, in the opinion of the House, the government should adopt Shannen’s Dream by: (a) declaring that all First Nation children have an equal right to high-quality, culturally-relevant education; (b) committing to provide the necessary financial and policy supports for First Nations education systems; (c) providing funding that will put reserve schools on par with non-reserve provincial schools; (d) developing transparent methodologies for school construction, operation, maintenance and replacement; (e) working collaboratively with First Nation leaders to establish equitable norms and formulas for determining class sizes and for the funding of educational resources, staff salaries, special education services and indigenous language instruction; and (f) implementing policies to make the First Nation education system, at a minimum, of equal quality to provincial school systems.
Elizabeth May: Madam Speaker, I want to make it clear that I plan to vote in favour of today’s motion. The treatment of children in first nations communities is scandalous. They have a right to a decent education.
My question for the member for St. Paul’s is very direct and very brief. What does she believe it will take to see this legacy of shame end once and for all?
Hon. Carolyn Bennett: Madam Speaker, the exciting thing of having Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the brilliantly articulated Shannen’s dream, is that people have been thinking about these things for a long time. It is up to us to listen, to provide the appropriate resources and then to work with the first nations people on the ground to make sure that we are always re-evaluating in terms of investments and results. If more money is required to kickstart this out of the darkness, then we need to have a commitment that it will happen with stable, predictable funding that first nations can count on so that they can plan in the same way that other communities do in this country.