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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 8, 2003 - Issue 82


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Separate Aboriginal Schools May Come To Yukon

by CBC
credits: photos courtesy of Chief Zzeh Gittlet School, Old Crow, Yukon
Chief Zzeh Gittlet School entrance - FebruaryWHITEHORSE - A First Nations educator says separate schools for native children in Yukon are a real possibility.

Colleen Joe, the manager of Education, Employment and Training with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nation, says Yukon's aboriginal people are extremely frustrated with the public school system.

She sat on a federal education working group that released a report proposing separate systems for native students.

She says the Champagne-Aishihik government, located in the southwestern Yukon around Haines Junction, is considering whether to set up its own schools.

"There are some very strong opinions heading in that direction," she says. "On the one hand, I think this is the way we must go and then on the other hand, I would like my child to grow up in a world or in an education system where he isn't segregated."

Joe says most Champagne and Aishihik children are not doing well in the current education system.

Education branch seeks consultation

Meanwhile, the Yukon government says it wants to hear from First Nations about how to improve education for aboriginal students.

Chief Zzeh Gittlet School - computer labSuperintendent Colin Kelley says the Department of Education is setting up a new "partnership unit".

Kelley says ads will go out soon for an aboriginal employee to work more closely with First Nations.

"What we will be looking for is significant input on the part of the First Nations leadership and communities in giving the department some direction as to what it is that we should be doing with First Nations education," he says. "There are, I should say, deficits. There is no doubt about that."

Kelley agrees with concerns that the Department needs more First Nations people in positions of authority.

He says setting up a separate aboriginal branch in the Department of Education is a matter for the politicians to decide.

LINK: Final Report, National Working Group on Education

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