APTN National News
OTTAWA–The department of Aboriginal Affairs can’t say how much it spends per-student for on-reserve First Nation education.
A department official told APTN National News the department didn’t have the data readily available showing how much the department spends on First Nations students attending schools on-reserve.
APTN requested the information Wednesday.
Earlier this week, in an effort to undercut First Nations leaders’ demand for more education funding, Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan released a series of numbers he said showed Ottawa gave more per-student for First Nations education than the provinces. Despite the government research, officials don’t have information on the amount of money spent on reserve students alone.
Without that data, the numbers are misleading because they include how much Aboriginal Affairs spends on putting First Nations students into the provincial system, according to the Assembly of First Nation. And that inclusion would inflate the department’s $13, 542 per-student figure because about 36 per cent of First Nations students attend provincial schools, said the AFN.
The Assembly of First Nations says the department only spends $7,101 per student for on-reserve education.
Statistics Canada says the average Canadian student receives $10, 439.
The AFN claims there is an about $3 billion funding gap between on-reserve education and the rest of the country.
A department and AFN commissioned blue-ribbon panel found that at least 100 on-reserve schools provided unhealthy learning environments for students.
First Nations leaders gathered this week at an education summit in Gatineau, Que., across the Ottawa River from Parliament Hill. Chiefs rejected the Harper government’s plan to introduce legislation on First Nations education and are now mulling a plan of action that could include blockades or an occupation of Parliament Hill.