Liberals are committed to the socio-economic betterment of Aboriginal peoples. Not only for the achievement of social justice, but as one of Canada’s fastest growing populations, the success of First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples is critical to our country’s economic well being. As the party of the Kelowna Accord, the Liberal Party is committed to government-to-government partnerships with our aboriginal peoples that raise standards of livings and empower communities at the local level.
The Liberal Party is committed to investing in aboriginal education in order to close the learning gap. To start, Liberals would remove the cap on funding growth for aboriginal post-secondary education and would reverse the Harper cuts to First Nations University.
Liberals would also seek to reverse past wrongs. We would immediately call a federal investigation into the hundreds of Aboriginal women and girls that have gone missing in recent years. We would ratify the United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and we will ensure that any Canadian Arctic Strategy is focused on the success of the people that actually live there, rather than simply militarizing the Arctic.
The Kelowna Accord broke new ground in building relationships among federal, provincial and Aboriginal leadership based on respect and shared commitment to fairness and results. Much has changed since 2005, but much can be gained by retaining the lessons and spirit of the Kelowna process.
Aboriginal people are taking action with hope and ambition for the future. The federal government must stand with them as partners to accelerate progress in several major areas. Education is the most fundamental, and should be the top priority. A Liberal government will commit to working with Aboriginal leaders toward the goal of ensuring Aboriginal people have the same quality of opportunities to learn as other Canadians.
With a population that’s growing at six times the national average, and a median age of only 27, the success of Canada’s Aboriginal people is critical to our country’s economic well being. For them, as for most Canadians, learning is the key to success.
Yet, the dropout rate among Aboriginal students is twice the national average. And those who do reach post-secondary education face long odds against finishing.One of the drivers of these tragic statistics is the underfunding of aboriginal education in Canada. Most on-reserve schools, funded by the federal government, receive significantly less per pupil than schools in the provincial systems. And while federal funding for Aboriginal post-secondary education has been capped at 2 percent per year, tuition is rising at twice that rate.
A Liberal Government will invest an additional $200 million in its first two years to lift the cap on post-secondary education funding.
Consistent with the approach of the Learning Passport, we will explore with Aboriginal leaders ways to deliver resources more directly to students and their families. A key objective will be to increase the retention of Aboriginal students in Canada’s post secondary institutions.
Addressing the challenges in K-12 education is even more fundamental. A Liberal government will work with Aboriginal leadership to address inadequate funding over the medium term, starting with $300 million in new investment in its second year. We will support efforts to improve administration.
First Nations University in Saskatchewan, an important institution, will be re-financed under a Liberal government. We will create a Canada Métis Scholarship program, with a $5 million annual investment in Métis students.
A Liberal government will also create an Office of the First Nations Auditor General to monitor progress, identify best practices, and ensure accountability for public funds.