TORONTO - I applaud (November 23rd's) introduction of the Indigenous Institutes Act, which will establish a third pillar of provincial post-secondary education, owned, controlled and governed by a First Nation council. This will create a distinct pathway towards earning a diploma, certificate or degree that reflects Indigenous knowledge, cultures and languages.
As a graduate of the First Nation Technical Institute, I know full well the value and need for this specific stream of post-secondary education. I would not be where I am today without the quality education that I received from a First Nation institute, which provided education based on First Nations culture and values.
The province made a commitment in last year’s The Journey Together -- the response to the TRC Calls to Action -- towards developing a stand-alone Indigenous Institutes Policy and has upheld this commitment through a rigorous policy co-creation process with the 9 First Nation community-based educational institutes. These institutes, collectively known as the Aboriginal Institutes Consortium (AIC) develop and deliver culturally enriched, accredited post-secondary certificate, diploma, degree and post-graduate programs to Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners.
On behalf of the Chiefs of Ontario, I want to congratulate the AIC for their perseverance in their quest for recognition, as articulated in their 2014 Roadmap to Recognition Position Paper. It has been a long road of meetings, discussions and negotiations, which has resulted in a significant step towards the longstanding principles of First Nations control of First Nations education as advocated by First Nations for decades.
It has been long recognized that the mainstream post-secondary education system does not enable all of our learners to attain the knowledge and skills required to succeed in the context of today’s economy. First Nation learners, communities and organizations will benefit from the tenacity of the AIC, and now the Indigenous Institutes Act, for generations to come.
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario.