Number of Indigenous students unable to access post-secondary education due to lack of federal government funding
Percentage of the Indigenous population with a university degree; compared to the 29.3% of the non-Indigenous population
Number of Indigenous-run post-secondary institutions in Ontario, none of which receive public funding
Post-secondary education is a treaty right guaranteed by the state of Canada to the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities of this land.
- This right is affirmed in the Royal Proclamation of 1763.
- It is re-affirmed as a constitutional right in the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982.
Despite this being a fundamental right, decades of government underfunding at the federal level has made post-secondary education unattainable for thousands of potential First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners.
In Ontario, the government often engages in a “pass the buck” mentality when confronted with deficiencies in Indigenous education funding, using the excuse that First Nations, Métis and Inuit issues are the sole responsibility of the federal government.
First Nations, Métis and Inuit students who access post-secondary institutions face many barriers and challenges:
- High levels of racism and discrimination, due to a lack of public education on the history of colonialism in Canada.
- Limited or no options for culturally appropriate support and mental health services.
- Courses, curricula and programs are euro-centric and erase the history of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in Canada.
- Indigenous students are faced with harassment and violence when engaging in spiritual or cultural ceremonies on campus.
- Indigenous languages courses are often only offered intermittently and, on many campuses, are not offered beyond an introductory level.
For decades, First Nations, Métis and Inuit students and their allies have been calling on all levels of government to increase funding to close the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities and improve the learning experience for Indigenous students.
The Federation’s Circle of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Students is the only formal structure at the national level for First Nations, Métis and Inuit student representation and has been advocating for more funding for Indigenous students since the 1990’s.
Students and in particular, Indigenous students, recognize that any reconciliation efforts on behalf of the provincial government must be backed with community consultations, increased funds and greater access to resources to make Ontario a leader in Indigenous education.
Students are demanding that political parties in this election commit to an Indigenous Education Strategy based on community needs. This includes:
- An increase in First Nations, Métis and Inuit studies programs.
- An increase in and wider availability of course selections in Indigenous languages.
- An increase in the hiring of First Nations, Métis and Inuit faculty members across ALL programs and faculties.
- Cultural sensitivity training provided to all college and university faculty and administration.
- Pressure administrations to adopt the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Report.