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Indian Control Promised By Minister

Bill P. Wsiaki

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JUNE/JULY 1980      v10 n6&7 p15  
WINNIPEG - Canada's minister of Indian and northern affairs has proclaimed two significant commitments to native people.

Speaking at a banquet here May 14 during the National Indian Educational Conference of the National Indian Brotherhood, John Munro said he now recognized the fact that Indian people must make their own decisions, being fully responsible for the possible consequences.

"I will do my utmost to ensure that my department provides the framework to facilitate your endeavours in making Indian control of Indian education meaningful to your people," the minister promised.

Munro's second commitment was that "meaningful consultation is to be an absolute must for the direction and operation of my department."

He promised that he would share the job of establishing a means of communication that would satisfy the Canadian government and, "more importantly," the Indian people.

Although Munro believes his department has made cultural and educational progress for Indian people in Canada, he says greater improvements are needed.

He recognized that the kindergarten to Grade 12 education guidelines which have been causing concern among Indian people are one of the first problems he and his department must attempt to solve.

Indian education systems are being intensely shaped by non-Indian systems with social, cultural and economic purposes that differ from those of the Indian people, he said.

John Munro
John Munro, Minister of Indian Affairs.
Munro explained that while non-Indian communities set their educational objectives through local school boards with representation from parents and teachers of the communities, Indian communities have only limited means of defining their objectives in education.

As a result, he said, the major educational objectives have been moulded by other societies.

"How do we make Indian education more relevant and useful to Indian people?" he asked. The minister answered by saying that "the ultimate success for native control of Indian education lies with parental responsibility."

Admitting that the manner in which funds are directed must be re-examined, Munro suggested a grant system should be established for Indian control of native education systems.

These grants could be managed, he said, by Indian educators. Indian associations and Indian educational institutions "for the purpose of developing prototypes or models of education system components." Ultimately, the minister stated, these components would have to be accepted by Indian parents.

Munro, ending his talk by inviting Indian people to direct their problems and questions to him, announced he would be travelling across Canada extensively to meet and talk with as many band associations and native people as possible.

The Prairie Messenger