OHSWEKEN — Six Nations new education manager Julia Candlish says ongoing research into education systems on Six Nations is going well and will continue — with hopes to proceed to community meetings soon with a final report.
Candlish presented an update to the Six Nations Elected Council Tuesday night, along with researcher Craig Robinson from the Deloitte Canada, seeking approval to continue the research and compile final reports on the current status of Six Nations education including the needs and wants of band members for education going forward.
Candlish says researchers are looking at the entirety of education from early years all the way through to programming for elders and adult learning.
Prior to her position with Six Nations, Candlish served as the Director of Education at the Chiefs of Ontario. Candlish, a Mohawk from Six Nations, was part of the team that worked to develop a new funding model for schools in First Nations communities announced by the government earlier this week.
The work she is carrying forward on Six Nations with the Lifelong Task Force is still in the research phase.
Candlish says research began in the Spring of 2018 through surveys with teachers, teaching staff and community agencies to gather data on the status of education at Six Nations.
Preliminary findings in the report haven’t discovered anything new — but show an ongoing pattern from previous reports that children are coming to school hungry — a detail that is often affecting attendance. The study is also finding a lack in services for special education and special education testing.
Six Nations Elected Councillor Sherri-Lyn Hill-Pierce sought clarification from Candlish — who said the study is researching and gathering data with no active plans to sign agreements with government agencies.
“We have requested funding from the federal government to continue research and community engagement,” said Candlish. “We’ve also requested funding to be able to start doing some of the capital and infrastructure ready projects that we have.”
Candlish says the project is not necessarily connected to the new education funding announced by the federal government for First Nations communities. While both the Everlasting Tree School and Gawenniyo will have opportunities to access the new funding announced — the funding announced does not pertain to federal schools.
Six Nations Elected Councillors asked Candlish clarification on whether there would be opportunity to create programming for art, music, family studies and design and technical courses at Six Nations schools. Candlish says that would be up for the community to contribute suggestions to the task force about what they want to see going forward for education at Six Nations.
Elected councillors asked that the report be available for the public at an unscheduled public meeting about the study’s findings and also to be published to the councils website.