Sask. First Nations and Métis students get $3M

The provincial government announced Tuesday it will invest $3 million to improve education outcomes for First Nations and Métis students.

Province hopes to improve education for First Nations and Métis People

Fishing Lake First Nation students attend class at their reserve school in Saskatchewan. (Troy Fleece/Canadian Press)

First Nations and Métis students in Saskatchewan are getting a financial boost from the provincial government.

The province announced Tuesday it will invest $3 million in an attempt to improve education outcomes for First Nations and Métis students. The funding is part of the province's Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis People.

The plan is to spend $1.5 million for an initiative that will provide on-reserve schools with supports and services currently available in provincial schools.

Dan Florizone, deputy minister of education, said the first step is to have the provincial school divisions sit down with the First Nations schools, organizations, and administration to develop priorities.

“‘What supports are necessary to be able to succeed here?’" Florizone said. "We can't do everything at once. A lot of this is around prioritizing our work and making sure that whatever we develop as our top few, select few, must do, can't fail priorities, [we] have the necessary resources in place.” 

Bobby Cameron, Vice Chief with the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said he's excited to see how this funding will directly impact students.

"It's about creating opportunities and opening those doors," Cameron said. "Making our children want to learn, to be excited to learn, to want to come to school and learn in a happy, healthy environment. And these joint task recommendations, they're going to do that."

The province said the other $1.5 million will be put towards the 'Help Me Tell My Story' program, which measures the oral language development of pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students. It's also an initiative that collects information from parents, teachers and Elders in the community. 

Don Morgan, Saskatchewan's education minister, said it's proved to be an important assessment.

"By having things where we're assessing a child's performance early on and having the child participate in that assessment, then we're able to ensure that the supports are there to try and bring each individual child forward," Morgan said.

Morgan said the province has a graduation rate of more than 70 per cent. The rate for First Nations students is about 30 per cent.

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