Full Participating Members of Society?

Reading an article titled “Lack of resources holding First Nations students back: panel”, I am a bit disturbed that Duncan, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, can be quoted saying in terms of the government’s priority and commitments that the government can make:

“…provide First Nation students with quality education that enables them to acquire the skills they need to enter the labour market and be full participants in a strong Canadian economy.”

You can read that full article HERE.

My first concern is with the use of the term “Quality education.” Yes quality education but education that works for First Nations students including cultural education and perhaps improving the current curriculum to include education of FNMI issues in the classroom even for non-FNMI students.

Then he is quoted saying that “that enables them to acquire the skills they need to enter the labour market and be full participants in a strong Canadian economy.” Be full participants in a strong Canadian economy? To me, he is suggesting that we are not full participants in a supposed strong Canadian economy. This type of discourse is what contributes to the stereotypical/racist views of FNMI groups within Canada.

I remember I wrote an earlier post I wrote about Ibbitson’s article on “Drop Out Chiefs” and I wrote,

Ibbitson continues to talk about the “broken [First Nations] education system” as if to say that the non-First Nations education is what works. Well, it doesn’t and it hasn’t been working for years. Correction, decades. That is right, I said it: The non-First Nations education is NOT what works for First Nations students. Just look at the residential school system. It is these First Nations Leaders’ decisions not to support the panel because it is only discussing a band-aid solution for separate Nations within a larger Nation. Remember Ottawa and their party dress? All just to say they did it.

You can read that full post HERE.

As a First Nations student I can’t speak for all, but I can say that what doesn’t work is that thinking we just need to reintegrate and contribute to society as full members. We are full participating members of society. We just have been excluded and continue to be excluded with comments like this.

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