A new three-way agreement between the federal and provincial governments and a provincial First Nations organization will result in $20 million annual funding from Ottawa to support education of Indigenous students in B.C.
A ceremony to recognize the agreement was held Wednesday at the Squamish Nation’s Xwemelch’stn Etsimxwawtxw (Capilano Little Ones) School in West Vancouver, attended by Seamus O’Regan, federal minister of Indigenous services, along with provincial Minister of Education Rob Fleming and Tyrone McNeil, president of the First Nations Education Steering Committee.
The $20 million will go towards supporting First Nations language and culture programs as well as the introduction of an all-day junior kindergarten program for four-year-olds at First Nations schools beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.
The funding will pay for language and culture coaches in First Nations schools as well as supporting development of First Nations language courses in the curriculum of provincial public schools.
As part of the agreement, the First Nations Education Steering Committee will also provide input on First Nations education to the province as part of the provincial educational policy development.
One of the province’s teacher professional development days in the coming school years is expected to focus on enhancing First Nations student achievement.
Other parts of the agreement include providing money for bus transportation of Indigenous students to school in more remote parts of the province.
Other funding from the federal government is going to buy school computers and provide internet connections to First Nations schools in B.C.