(Ottawa, ON) – On August 13, Justin Trudeau, the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada unveiled the Liberal government’s plan for First Nation education and economic opportunity.
“Canada only succeeds when we all succeed. Indigenous Peoples are the fastest growing segment of our population, and it is critical to our shared future that they have the same education and economic opportunities as everyone else. This must be a real priority for the federal government,” said Mr. Trudeau.
“A Liberal government will immediately engage in a renewed, respectful, and inclusive nation-to-nation process to make important new investments in First Nations education and close the existing funding gap.”
Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said the announcement by Mr. Trudeau on First Nations education sets out a substantive plan for action.
National Chief Bellegarde stated: “New and significant investments in education are essential to closing the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and other Canadians.”
“This plan would have an immediate impact and help close that gap by investing in our students and our schools. This is a positive start towards supporting First Nations control of First Nations education. We look forward to more dialogue about our priorities. All the parties need to step up and make clear commitments to First Nations.”
Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau announced in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan that a Liberal government will commit to new investments in elementary and secondary education and new school construction as well as lifting the 2% cap on essential government services for First Nations. Mr. Trudeau also announced commitments to curriculum development on Aboriginal and Treaty rights, Indian Residential Schools and the contributions of Indigenous Peoples to Canada and new investments to promote, preserve and advance First Nations languages and culture.
The Liberal leader also said his party will never act unilaterally and instead will engage in a renewed, respectful, and inclusive nation-to-nation process. The new investments identified total more than $3.2 billion over 4 years. The Liberal leader also said his party will engage in First Nations-led initiatives on jurisdiction over education.
The National Chief noted the Liberal leader’s commitment to “re-engage in a renewed, respectful, and inclusive nation-to-nation Kelowna process to advance progress on the issues First Nations have prioritized”, including housing, infrastructure, health, child welfare and community safety and policing.
“The commitment to working with First Nations as partners on a Nation-to-Nation basis is an essential element of the new relationship that Canada and First Nations must put in place. Similar commitments from all federal parties are imperative to closing the gap,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “That’s the approach we need to work with Canada on a comprehensive plan for closing the gap and building a stronger Canada for all of us.”
The National Chief said that the AFN will be analyzing the details of the announcement and that the AFN will issue a comprehensive analysis and assessment of all federal party commitments to First Nations later in the campaign. The National Chief stated that the Assembly of First Nations will be releasing its Federal Election Priorities for First Nations and Canada in the coming weeks and will be seeking a public response from all parties.
The Federal Election will be held on October 19.