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CAUT Bulletin Archives

October 2001

AFN Lobbies Feds to Increase First Nations Education Funding

First Nations people are bearing the brunt of rising tuition fees and stagnant funding for post-secondary education, the Assembly of First Nations is warning.

While tuition fees once again rose in 2001, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada did not increase its post-secondary funding program.

"Any time tuition goes up, because our budgets are capped at the First Nations level, that means fewer students can go to school, fewer are graduating and fewer are entering the work force," said Perry Bellegarde, chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

The funding crunch is prompting the Assembly of First Nations to press Ottawa to triple its funding for First Nations post-secondary education by adding about $600 million to the $300 million it currently spends.

The federal government indicated it would increase funding, Bellegarde explained, but only if the AFN could prove there was a demand for the program.

"So we've showed them the waiting lists," Bellegrade said. "The waiting lists are going to continue to grow as we get more Grade 12 graduates coming out. If governments don't see the need to put more dollars into educational programming, the statistics facing our people aren't going to get any better. In fact, they'll get worse."

The AFN insists that post-secondary education is part of their treaty rights and the matter has been put on the agenda of the treaty commissioner.