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One Of Many Problems

Richard Martell

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      DECEMBER 1976      v06 n12 p44  
Education as we all know is one of our treaty rights - but what's happened to it. The intention was to let Indians benefit from the same education services as any other Canadian citizen.

The education of "legal" Indians is the responsibility of the federal government, though it may enter into joint agreements with provinces, local school boards or churches where a sum per child is granted by the federal government in exchange for educational services.

There are three types of schools; day, residential, and integrated. The first is reserved for more or less "stable" families close to a central location. The second is for children whose parents weren't home a lot of the time or have personal family problems, such as drinking. The third is often applied to intermediate and secondary grades.

We wonder why Indian children quit school. Well, let's have a look at why the Indian children don't mare it past grade eight and why the white students make it. First, the white child takes up without any break, reinforces and builds upon all that he has previously learned in his home and community. Whereas, for the Indian child the same system means a severe break with his culture and starts him off a disadvantage from which he never or almost never recovers and which finally turns him away from school. This is one simple reason why we need more schools on our reserves.

In 1972, the National Indian Brotherhood presented the government with a policy paper called Indian Control of Indian Education. Its' main thrust - parental responsibility and local control. It suggested that there be a partner ship between Indian Bands, local and provincial school boards and the federal government in implementing Indian Education as Indians see suitable with authority and funding transferred to local Bands.

A lot of emphasis has been placed on Indian culture, language, tradition, values and the native peoples contribution to Canadian history. Now we have things happening in different places; to name-a few - Trent University in Peterborough which was the first to set up a, native studies department, the Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College which offers the first Indian-teachers education program (ITEP). Representation on school boards and in the department of education has increased. Native language courses are being offered where native children are taught in their native, language in the primary grades then taught English as a second language. We are slowly getting there but the battle is not over yet, not by a long shot.