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PRESS RELEASE - CANADA’S MINISTERS OF EDUCATION HOLD MEETING WITH NATIONAL ABORIGINAL ORGANIZATIONS

TORONTO, February 24, 2011 — The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), Canada’s long-standing intergovernmental body, met yesterday with leaders and representatives of national Aboriginal organizations (NAOs) — the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the Métis National Council (MNC), and the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC).

The meeting comes in follow-up to the highly successful CMEC Summit on Aboriginal Education, which took place in February 2009 in Saskatoon, and reflects CMEC’s ongoing work with partners to eliminate the gap in academic achievement and graduation rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners, as outlined in CMEC’s 2008 ministerial declaration, Learn Canada 2020.

“CMEC is honoured to have been joined yesterday with representatives of First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples to further our dialogue on Aboriginal education in Canada,” said the Honourable Rob Norris, Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration for Saskatchewan and lead for Aboriginal education at CMEC. “A variety of barriers continue to impede academic achievement among Aboriginal learners and we must address them together. After all, education is the cornerstone of Canada’s future growth and prosperity. Through close cooperation with national and regional Aboriginal education partners, ministers are working to ensure that Aboriginal learners have the means and opportunity to contribute to — and share in — that future.”

Ministers of education and NAO representatives and leaders shared their views on a wide range of topics including:

Aboriginal-education initiatives, programs, and policies — provincial, territorial, and NAO — that have emerged since the 2009 summit;

The collection of accurate and comparable data to track progress on Aboriginal educational achievement in a way that respects the cultural autonomy and unique needs of Aboriginal peoples as well as regional realities;

Approaches to the funding of Aboriginal education that take into consideration the diverse needs and varied circumstances of Aboriginal learners; 

Engagement with the federal government on adequate federal funding for Aboriginal education in accordance with federal constitutional responsibilities; the importance of federal support for First Nations and Inuit postsecondary education. 

Ministers of education also provided NAOs with an overview of CMEC’s strategy for Aboriginal education which provides for regionally appropriate work on pan-Canadian Aboriginal-education data collection and research, teacher education, and knowledge transfer among all those involved in Aboriginal education. The plan also calls for ongoing discussion with the federal government on Aboriginal education issues.

CMEC also announced that it will host an educators’ forum to share evidence and experiences about what works to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal learners. The forum will be held in November 2011 and will bring together teachers and education specialists from across Canada. Ministers of education welcomed active NAO participation in the event.

“Today’s meeting is a real step forward in our work with First Nation, Métis, and Inuit peoples to eliminate the achievement gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners,” said the Honourable Diane McGifford, Chair of CMEC and Manitoba’s Minister of Advanced Education and Literacy and Minister responsible for International Education. “With the knowledge and experience of Aboriginal leaders, the determination of provinces and territories, and the full financial participation of the federal government, we can build a Canada where all Aboriginal peoples are able to reach their full educational potential.”

About CMEC

Founded in 1967, CMEC is the collective voice of Canada’s ministers of education. It provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the fulfillment of the constitutional jurisdiction for education conferred on the provinces and territories. For more information, visit us at www.cmec.ca.

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Information

Colin Bailey
Director, Communications
Cell: 416-804-6548
Tel.: 416-962-8100, ext. 259
E-mail: c.bailey@cmec.ca