Saskatoon, February 25, 2009 – An historic summit, designed to raise the profile of Aboriginal education, concluded today in Saskatoon. The event was organized by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), and brought together leaders from over 40 national and regional Aboriginal organizations with provincial and territorial ministers of education. A number of Aboriginal affairs ministers were also present.
The summit facilitated a pan-Canadian dialogue on eliminating the achievement gap between First Nation, Métis, and Inuit learners and other Canadian learners. Over the two-day event, ministers listened to participants about the importance of strengthening partnerships. “The challenges are not new, but our approach is. Aboriginal education issues have now been put at the forefront of the CMEC agenda and we are determined to work in partnership with our Aboriginal and federal colleagues,” said the Honourable Kelly Lamrock, Chair of CMEC and Minister of Education for New Brunswick.
During the summit discussions, ministers heard that more support from the federal government is critical to the success of Aboriginal learners. Participants also raised issues such as the need to enhance Aboriginal educational achievement, the need to focus on early learning opportunities, the education funding gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal learners, the limited participation in postsecondary education, and the shortage of quality school infrastructure on reserve. Participants also underlined the need to ensure that curricula are reflective of Aboriginal perspectives.
“Our gathering has helped identify specific barriers confronting Aboriginal learners. It has also offered fresh examples of what is working across Canada. Importantly, there is a clear consensus on the significance of postsecondary education for Aboriginal peoples in enriching communities and fostering vibrant economies. It is time to work together to enhance access to postsecondary education and take action,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour, the Honourable Rob Norris.
As part of its commitment to achieving the goals of Learn Canada 2020, CMEC ministers will continue to engage all those who can and must participate in eliminating the educational achievement gap of Aboriginal learners.
“It has been an honour to host the CMEC Summit on Aboriginal Education in Saskatchewan. My colleagues and I will take what we heard during the last two days back to our home provinces and territories. We are committed to working collaboratively to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal learners,” said Saskatchewan Minister of Education, the Honourable Ken Krawetz.
In closing the summit, CMEC committed to forging an ongoing relationship with national Aboriginal leaders and ministers of education agreed to strengthening their existing relationships with regional representatives. “While there are many issues that are the responsibility of the federal government, there is much we can do now as ministers of education to align programs and services to meet the needs and unleash the full potential of Aboriginal learners,” said Minister Lamrock.
CMEC is an intergovernmental body composed of the ministers responsible for elementary‑secondary and advanced education from the provinces and territories. Through CMEC, ministers share information and undertake projects in areas of mutual interest and concern.
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