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New slogan minted at Anishinabek Education Symposium: Say ‘Yes’ to the AES

UOI OFFICES (Nipissing First Nation) April 29, 2014 – The draft education self‐government agreement between
the Anishinabek Nation and Canada got an in‐depth review by First Nation leaders and educators at the
Anishinabek Nation’s education symposium held at Nbisiing Secondary School in Nipissing First Nation, April
23 ‐24.

In his remarks, Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee said, “We are at a time when we must move forward to
take charge of the education of our children. Our education system is designed for success on our terms and
under our jurisdiction. It has been designed by Anishinabek parents, Elders, and education experts. We’ve had
the inspiration, done the perspiration, now we need implementation. We will soon be asking for First Nation
resolutions to approve initialling of the education agreement and getting discussions going at the community
level to prepare for ratification votes.”

The recognition by Canada of the Anishinabek First Nations’ jurisdiction over primary, elementary and
secondary education, and the funding to operate the Anishinabek Education System (AES), a stand‐alone,
parallel, education system, is the prime purpose of the draft education self‐government agreement with
Canada.

Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare said, “More than ever, we have to be together. We have a responsibility
to shape our future. No one can teach us our language but us.” Chief Isadore Day of Serpent River, and
Chairperson of the Chiefs Committee on Governance, struck a chord with “Say ‘Yes’ to the AES!”, a refrain
often echoed during the symposium.

Murray Pridham and Dolly Hos, Canada’s education negotiators, gave Canada’s perspective on the
Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement (ANEA), Canada’s fiscal offer, and the self‐government legislative
framework. Joanne Wilkinson, Director General from Education Branch, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada , spoke on Bill C‐33, the proposed First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act
(FNCFNEA) and its potential impact on the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement. First Nations operating
under education self‐government agreements will be exempt from the FNCFNEA.

Chiefs were highly critical of the FNCFNEA as being more about the Minister keeping control of First Nation
education but off‐loading federal liability to First Nations with status quo underfunding. The FNCFNEA was
perceived as an attack on First Nations’ jurisdiction and a threat to First Nation schools.

Canada’s education fiscal offer was also criticized for not meeting the funding needs of Anishinabek First
Nations, particularly those with on‐reserve schools. Further criticism was levelled at Canada for not being
transparent and not disclosing its methodology in arriving at the funding levels in the fiscal offer.

The two‐day symposium followed a well‐attended technical briefing during the evening of April 22, at the
Anishinabek Nation head office. The education symposium boasted record attendance with 175
representatives from 33 of 39 Anishinabek First Nation communities registered, including Elders, elected
Chiefs and councillors, education directors, principals, teachers, the Anishinabek Nation Women’s Council and
Youth Council. Among other official delegates was the Kinomaadswin Education Body (KEB), a First Nation
representative Board of Directors, who updated on recent discussions on the governance model of the
Anishinabek Education System (AES).

In June 2013, the Anishinabek Nation Grand Council directed the establishment of the AES ahead of approval
of the negotiated agreement to ensure the AES would be a turn‐key operation on April 2016, the planned
effective date of the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement (ANEA). Included in the strategic plan to
establish the AES is negotiations with Ontario, regarding practical arrangements for cooperation and student
transfers between the provincial and Anishinabek education systems.

Restoration of Jurisdiction Director, Mike Restoule, and Anishinabek Nation Education Negotiator, Tracey
O’Donnell, agreed that the education symposium met its objectives to get express direction for next steps for
leadership and the negotiation team, to update on the strategic plan to implement the AES, and to achieve
clarity on the proposed, federal FNCFNEA. The FNCFNEA had been called a “distraction” by Grand Council
Chief Patrick Madahbee when it was first announced.

Negotiation of the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement continues and initialling by negotiators is
expected to take place at the November 2014 Special Assembly. In the meantime, community information
sessions are proceeding.

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a
political advocate for 39 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people. The
Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the
Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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For more information contact:
Marci Becking, Communications Officer
Phone : 1‐877‐702‐5200 ext. 2290
Email : becmar@anishinabek.ca
www.anishinabek.ca
www.anishinabeknews.ca
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