This section provides answers to questions that Anishinaabe and stakeholders may ask about the education self-government agreement.


1.        Who is the Anishinabek Nation?

The Anishinabek Nation consists of 40 First Nations in Ontario with a land base that ranges from Golden Lake in the east, Sarnia in the south, Thunder Bay and Lake Nipigon in the north.  The Anishinabek Nation has four regions: Southwest, Southeast, Lake Huron and Northern Superior. Each region is represented by a Regional Grand Chief. The Anishinabek Nation, incorporated under the Union of Ontario Indians, has its headquarters located on Nipissing First Nation, just outside of North Bay Ontario and has satellite offices in Thunder Bay, Curve Lake First Nation and Munsee-Delaware First Nation.   A detailed description on the Anishinabek Nation can be found at the website www.anishinabek.ca

2.        What is the population of the Anishinabek Nation?

The Anishinabek Nation has about 60,000 citizens, which represents one third of Ontario’s aboriginal population. About 60% of the population lives off-reserve.

3.        How many schools and students does the Anishinabek Nation have?

The Anishinabek Nation has about 27,000 students. About 22,500 students live off reserve and attend off-reserve schools. This represents about 83% of all Anishinaabe students. Another 2,400 students live on reserve but go to off-reserve schools. This is about 9% of all students. And another 2,100 students, or 8%, live on reserve and attend on-reserve schools.

In other words, about nine in ten Anishinabek students attend schools supervised by the Ontario government. Only one in ten students attends a school run by Anishinabek First Nations.

Of the 39 Anishinabek First Nations, 23 operate their own schools. In all, there are 27 schools located on reserve. This includes three high schools. Only two First Nations teach all their on-reserve students in schools on reserve.

4.        Why did the Anishinabek Nation and the federal government negotiate this Education Agreement?

The Anishinabek Nation negotiated this agreement to address concerns about Anishinaabe students’ attendance and graduation rates. By both measures, Anishinaabe students are below provincial averages.

The federal government’s negotiation mandate stems from the 1982 Constitution Act, which recognized aboriginal and treaty rights. In 1995, the federal government recognized aboriginal self-government as an inherent (or essential) constitutional right.

5.        What will the Education Agreement accomplish?

The agreement recognizes that the First Nations are the only governments that can make education laws for their members. It enables them to govern and administer education. Using that power, they will set up the Anishinabek Education System. The system will provide Anishinaabe students with an education that includes instruction in Anishinaabe culture while meeting provincial education standards.

6.        What is the difference between the current education system and the one that will be put in place with the Education Agreement?

The current education system does not allow Anishinaabe to provide students with the education they need. The off-reserve schools are managed to meet provincial standards. They teach Anishinaabe students the same lessons as all other Ontario students, and don’t need to teach Anishinaabe language, culture and history. Some schools have started to do this, but they don’t have the resources they need.

The schools that First Nations operate on reserve are fully controlled by the federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. There are no minimum standards for student performance. The minister negotiates education agreements with provincial governments and school boards. Only the minister can do this. The Indian Act does not allow First Nations any role in education.

Under the Anishinabek Education System, First Nations will make education laws for schools on reserve, and fully control decisions about how best to spend education funding. The First Nations can require schools to focus on cultural preservation while providing high-quality education. Under the agreement, the schools must meet standards that allow students to transfer between the Anishinabek and Ontario school systems without needing to repeat grades or credits.

You can find more information about the agreement by viewing the Draft Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement and the Anishinabek Nation Fiscal Transfer Agreement (EFTA).

7.        What about the negotiation on governance between the Anishinabek Nation and Canada?

The Anishinabek Nation is negotiating a self-government agreement that would give it authority to make laws on citizenship, leadership selection, language and culture, and the management and operation of First Nation governments. In these areas, the federal Indian Act would no longer apply.

These governance negotiations are completely separate from the education agreement. Even if they lead to an agreement, and if the First Nations accept that agreement, nothing would change in the new education system.

You can get more information on the governance agreement negotiations from Lisa Restoule at the Anishinabek Nation office, at 705-497-9127.

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