Ontario announces millions in funding for First Nations post-secondary education

OHSWEKEN — Minister of Training Colleges and Universities, Reza Moridi along with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs David Zimmer were at Six Nations Polytechnic this week to announce stable funding for Aboriginal Post-secondary education over the next three years totaling in $97 million.

The investment includes an added $5 million to assist the sustainability of Ontario’s nine Aboriginal-owned and operated post secondary institutes located at 14 schools throughout the province in North Bay, Muncey, Fort William, Tyendinaga, M’Chigeeng, Akwesasne, Thunder Bay, Six Nations, Fort Frances, Kenora, Garden River and Sault Ste. Marie.

The schools offer a culturally appropriate environment with opportunities for indigenous students to start and complete post-secondary programming. Ontario says this investment is to support more Inuit, First Nations and Metis learners in accessing high quality post-secondary education.

“All Ontarians – including First Nation, Metis and Inuit learners – deserve equal access to high quality post-secondary education and skills training programs that will help them get good jobs. Aboriginal institutes are an important component of the post-secondary education and training sector in Ontario, and our increased investments and the development of a policy that better establishes their role in the broader sector will create learning environments for students that are anchored in the diverse cultural and linguistic traditions of Aboriginal communities,” said Moridi.

Moridi explained that the investment is to ensure security for those that plan programming, so they may focus on planning for the next three years without worry in obtaining funding. He further explained that there has been an increase of nine percent in Aboriginal learners since 2010.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister David Zimmer said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission brought an important focus on investing in First Nations education as an act of active reconciliation between the government and indigenous people.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission taught us how much more we can achieve when we commit to working in partnership with Aboriginal communities. That is especially true when it comes to education, which plays a central role in reconciliation between our peoples. This investment in Aboriginal institutes will provide the opportunity for more Aboriginal learners to pursue quality post-secondary and training opportunities,” said Zimmer.

Zimmer explained that the investment will provide Aboriginal students more opportunities in post-secondary education to find jobs and outlets that suit them, even culturally. Those in attendance were offered copies of “Achieving Results Through Partnership” booklets, which is the first progress report on the implementation of the Ontario Aboriginal Post-secondary Education and Training Policy Framework.

President of Polytechnic Rebecca Jamieson also expressed her gratitude for the investment. “Six Nations Polytechnic is committed to working in partnership with colleges, universities, Aboriginal institutes and the Government of Ontario to ensure that education for Indigenous learners affirms cultural identity and that education about Indigenous peoples builds understanding across cultures. Through respectful partnerships we can build mutual recognition, mutual respect, and shared responsibility for maintaining positive relationships with Indigenous peoples into the future for the benefit of all,” said Jamieson.

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