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Delbert Wapass, a vice-chief with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, says the time has come for a separate school system for aboriginals in the province. ((CBC))

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations says the time has come to create a separate school system for aboriginal youth.

"It is time for us to have the opportunity for us to advance our educational destiny," Delbert Wapass, a vice-chief with the FSIN told a news conference Friday.

Designing and implementing an urban First Nations system will provide an educational opportunity for success, Wapass said, adding that "it's time to break the circle of blame."

Wapass, an elected member of the FSIN executive with responsibilities for education issues, noted that a similar recommendation was made for the school system in Winnipeg.

He said the First Nations system would be rooted in First Nations values, beliefs and traditions and he suggested it would be similar to other separate school divisions such as the Catholic system.

"If you are taught by your people and you are implementing your culture, your identity, your language and a sense of place to belong it's going to breed success at the end of the day," Wapass said.

No success with existing system

He said the current school system is not working and that many First Nations students drop out.

"The province has had decade after decade to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people," Wapass noted. "But has not been able to succeed in doing so."

The FSIN has not yet taken the proposal to the provincial government. However, Wapass suggested that an urban First Nations school could open in the fall of 2010.

He added that any education system would have to be publicly funded.

The FSIN represents almost all First Nations bands in Saskatchewan.

According to the federal government, there are 129,138 registered Indians in the province. Census information shows that about 25 per cent of that number are school aged.