Canada Conservatives defer First Nations education bill #idlenomore #bced #yteubc

Gloria Galloway, Globe & Mail, May 5, 2014– The federal Conservative government has shelved the centrepiece of its aboriginal policy after proposals for improving on-reserve education were widely rejected by native leaders, and prompted the resignation of the national chief who had supported them.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt put a hold Monday on the legislation known as the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, three days after Shawn Atleo stepped down as leader of the Assembly of First Nations, saying his endorsement of the bill was becoming a distraction.

Mr. Valcourt had relied on the support of the AFN and its leader to justify passage of the bill – which would have boosted spending by $1.9-billion over multiple years – over the objection of other chiefs. So, when Mr. Atleo resigned, he backed down. “Given the recent resignation of the national chief,” his spokeswoman said in a statement on Monday, “following today’s second reading vote, any further consideration of this legislation will be put on hold until the AFN clarifies its position.”

The decision was greeted with relief by those chiefs who had spoken out against it, particularly provisions that would have tied new funding to standards set and monitored by Ottawa. But even those opponents said efforts to reform a system that is failing so many young indigenous people must continue.

“There is no time to kick and scream for joy here because we’ve got a lot of work to do,” said Isadore Day, the chief of the Serpent River First Nation in Northern Ontario, who was one of the more outspoken critics.

“I think we achieved what we needed to,” Mr. Day said of the news that the legislation would not be moving forward, at least in the short term. “Now the work begins to refine the position – from being reactionary and on the defence to putting forward what the plan ought to be for First Nations education.”

Read More: Globe & Mail

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