Education for First Nation children (C)

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: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate my friend, the hon. member for Louis-Saint-Laurent, for expressing her feelings so well regarding an issue that affects aboriginal children across Canada, and particularly for urging us to make Shannen’s dream become reality. What changes should be made to Canada’s policies so that the change everyone is hoping for can take place?

Alexandrine Latendresse: Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for her question. Like me, she has a clear understanding of the issues facing Canada’s first nations, particularly aboriginal children. I am convinced she knows how dishonourable it is to see children live in the conditions faced by many first nations. Some very simple measures could be taken. First, we could provide true funding to schools and help children get access to books and textbooks, which is not the case right now. This is really minimal. It is said that millions of dollars have been thrown at these reserves, but we are talking about management in a broad sense. We do not try to find out what these people really need. We do not give them a chance to get what they really need. That would be a significant first step.