On Thursday, November 19th, 2015, a historical framework agreement between The Union of Chiefs of Ontario, Anishinabek Nation, and the Province of Ontario’s Ministry of Education was signed. ‘The Master Education Framework Agreement is intended to establish practical arrangements for ongoing collaboration on strategies to promote anishinabe student success and well being. The agreement will further support transitions between First Nations’ schools and Ontario provincial schools, thereby assisting the Ansishnabek Education system to provide high quality Ansininaabe educational programs and services in First Nations’ schools.’ (anishinabek.ca)
Chief Paul Syrette, Garden River First Nation welcomed all those gathered in the Grand Ballroom of The Delta Waterfront in Sault Ste. Marie. “Miigwech for coming and being part of this sacred ceremony and historical day.”
Muriel Sawyers, KEB Board Director, shared a message in the Anishinabee language.
In her opening remarks, The Province of Ontario, Minister of Education Liz Sandals said “I am very honoured to be here to sign the Ontario & Anishinabek Nation Education Framework Agreement. The Anishinabek, The Federal and Provincial governments all recognize that we need to collaborate together.” Liz Sandals acknowledged that the gathering was taking place on the traditional lands of the Anishinabek people in the territory of the (1850) Robinson-Huron Treaty.
“I had the real pleasure of attending, in August, on the Fort William First Nation, the first ever Anisihinabek Nation of Ontario Education Summit, where we re-affirmed our commitment to the framework agreement process.”
Dating back to 2009, a memorandum of understanding was signed where the province of Ontario and the Ansihinabek Nation made a commitment to ongoing collaboration with a goal of establishing an anishinabek education system.
Minister Liz Sandals further said “A true partnership has guided our work on the Master Education Framework Agreement. Today is an important milestone in our ongoing collaboration and I look forward to the next phase in the process which will be the negotiation of the Master Education Agreement itself.”
“The government of Ontario is committed to achieving excellence in education.” said Minister Sandals ” Where all students see themselves reflected in their learning. Where they can meet their full potential and best prepare for the future. This is a new chapter for all of us”
Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, acknowledged the sacred items present in the grand ballroom. To the students he said “You are the most important people in the room today. We’re excited about what you are going to do to lead our communities. This is more than a photo opportunity. The most important thing is that you are here to bear witness to what is happening here today. So that you, the Anishinabek students can be proud of your identity and achieve your education goals.”
Minster Sandals was presented, by Anishinabek Nation GCC Madahbee and Deputy Grand Council Chief Glen Hare with a gorgeous bead work pendent that she adorned right away.
A pipe ceremony by elder Gordon Waindubence brought all of the Anishinibek Chiefs present, along with Minister Liz Sandals, together in a circle. With air infused of sage and sweet grass, elder Gordon Waindubence moved through the sacred ceremony with reverence to the four directions, speaking and singing in the traditional language of the Anishinabek people. Upon completion of the pipe ceremony, aboriginal students from within the Algoma District School Board, carried in the framework agreement, stopping in front of each Chief in the circle, and Minister Sandals for signature.
Minister Sandals shared an example of how the implementation of the Framework Agreement could be explored. “In the case of a First Nations school on a reserve, the local school board could work with the reserve school, to share professional development opportunities for teachers and staff. This would ensure that teachers on reserves and teachers in provincial schools are all getting the same professional development opportunities.”
“All children in provincial schools will learn about the real First Nations history, including learning about residential schools, and the trauma that families have suffered in the past. As a province we have a responsibility to teach all of our students about First Nation history.” said Minister Sandals.
The Federal Government has a separate agreement with the Anishinabek Nation to set up a federal Ansihinabek Education system.
“Ultimately, what we all need to do, is support the first nation students in making sure that they have a wonderful education system wherever they are going to school, and ensure that they have all the same opportunities.”
“The vast majority of Anishinabek children attend provincial schools from (grades) JK-12 or 9-12. Most are attending provincial schools at some point in their elementary and secondary school journey. Ultimately, what we all need to do, is support the first nation students in making sure that they have a wonderful education system wherever they are going to school, and ensure that they have all the same opportunities.”
Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee said “This is an exciting day. We now have a federal government and provincial government working with us, and listening to us on how we can improve education services.
As an example of how education systems could improve, GCC Madahbee said “Out of the 11 First Nations within the Rainbow School Board there is only one First Nation representative on the School Board. This (HMEFA)will give us an opportunity to have a better platform for our issues, thereby creating a better education system.”
A Blanket of Hope was placed in the Ball Room throughout the three day Anishinabek Nation Chief’s Gathering. Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Anishinabek Nation shared the significance of the blanket. “Each ear ring on the blanket represents a missing or murdered aboriginal woman and girl. The intent is to elevate the conversation and awareness for the project.”
Anishinaabe Kinomaadswin Nongo Anishinaabe Pane concluded later in the afternoon, November 19th,2015.