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(Many Paths)
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Education Set To Improve For Anishinabek Students
by Carl Clutchey - | North Shore Bureau, The Chronicle Journal

A "life-changing" approach to educating Indigenous children in 23 Ontario First Nations, emphasizing aboriginal culture and language, is to go into effect next spring.

The stage for the Anishinabek Nation System was set in mid-December following the passage in the Senate of the Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement, or Bill C-61.

The agreement is the result of 20 years of activism towards "delivering culturally-relevant and community-tailored education programs and services for the benefit of current and future generations of Anishinabek students," an Anishinabek Nation news release says.

"This includes promoting Anishinaabe culture and language."

The official implementation date is April 1.

Anishinabek Nation, formerly the Union of Ontario Indians, is headquartered near North Bay.

The agreement passed into on Dec. 14 demonstrates that "Canada recognizes First Nation jurisdiction," added the release.

"Now we have to take the words off the page and create an education system that supports Anishinabek student success and well-being."

Of the 23 participating First Nations, four are in Northwestern Ontario: Biinjitiwaabik Zaaging Anishinaabek (Rocky Bay) Long Lake, Pic Mobert and (Biigtigong Nishnaabeg) Pic River.

Rocky Bay Community Centre

Some schools are more advanced than others in terms of fitting Indigenous culture and perspectives into the provincial curriculum. And some, like Long Lake and Pic River, already have their own school boards in addition to their own schools.

The incoming education system appears poised to boost what's already been happening at many First Nation-run schools in the province.

Indigenous students are being encouraged to "take pride in their culture and heritage," while increasing their "knowledge of Indigenous history and treaties," one educator put it.

The spirit and practical aspects of the Anishinabek system will be backed by the existing Kinoomaadziwin Education Body (KEB,) which was created in 2010, as well as regional councils.

"The KEB will support participating First Nations in their delivery of education programs and services" as well as liaise with provincial educational officials, said the release.

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