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Bellegarde Reveals Grim Statistics...

Jerry Bellegarde

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JANUARY 1978      v08 n01 p18  
At the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College's Cultural Day, Albert Bellegarde, Executive Director of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, presented some startling statistics regarding Indians and education. He said that 80 per cent of all Indians do not have Grade 10 education, only 1.2 per cent have professional degrees, and 79 per cent of the Indian population are unemployed. The 79 per cent unemployed far exceeds the national average of 8 per cent unemployed.

"We have to give our people the skills to navigate in the outside communities," said Mr. Bellegarde. One way to do this is to have Indian control of Indian Education. He said that the native peoples of Canada want the responsibility of their own education back in their own hands, the way it was before the white man came. The Federated College is a fine example of what Indian control can do, he added. The college's fine historical, cultural and linguistic curriculum, along with the audio-visual equipment, library, research and other support areas are available to all Indians for educational purposes.

The work and purpose of the Saskatchewan Indian Community College was outlined by Mr. Bellegarde. He said the staff of the college works closely with bands, band councils, and district chiefs to identify needs, plan training programs and actually deliver those programs.

Mr. Bellegarde went on to say that we (Indians) are sadly lacking in educational leadership. We don't have enough educational leaders to do the job so the colleges are the training grounds.

Mr. Bellegarde stressed the fact that Indian control of Indian Education would not mean a lowering of standards. He added that many Indians feel that Indian control would raise: the present standards.

At the close of his address, Mr. Bellegarde, stated that the Indians of the province would not be satisfied with short- term solutions; we need long-term solutions in terms of education, economic development, and sports and recreation.