On Tuesday May 27, 2014 Batchewana leadership attended the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Special Chief’s Assembly to discuss the Federal Government’s controversial (proposed) Bill C-33.The Act titled, “First Nations Control of First Nations Education”, suggests that First Nations would be granted jurisdiction over education however, the proposed act in itself is an exercise of Federal power, that would actually increase Federal control of First Nations education, and decrease First Nations’ control. First Nations leadership from across the country gathered at the Assembly to discuss just that.
Chief after Chief presented countless reasons as to why the act infringed on their inherent rights and why their communities directed them to vote against endorsing the proposed Bill.
By the end of the assembly the Chief’s had made it clear through passionate, emotional presentations that they knew what was best for their communities, and that was not Bill C- 33. The Chief’s in Assembly rejected the Bill by consensus demonstrating a united front on a crucial issue, which they felt, would have had devastating impacts to future generations.
The Chiefs further, by consensus called on Canada to engage in an honourable process with First Nations that recognizes and supports regional and local diversity leading to true First Nation control of education based on inherent and Aboriginal Treaty rights.
Chief Dean Sayers had the following to say of the assembly, “It was empowering to see the level of unity from First Nations across Canada. There is much work to be done in regards to the AFN and the Confederacy of Nations, as we move forward to resolve outstanding issues with the Canadian government, but more so in the redevelopment of our own governance systems, and jurisdiction”.
Before Batchewana leadership had even left the meeting, Minister Valcourt had already made a statement expressing his disappointment, and making mention to a failed agreement.
In response to the statement Chief Dean Sayers remarked, “It is comments like these that completely undermine the consultative process and clearly demonstrate Minister Valcourt’s one-sided approach and attempt to unilaterally legislate First Nations on-reserve education”.
For more information please contact Batchewana First Nation’s Communications Coordinator, Alex Syrette at 705.759.0914 EXT. 247