Chiefs to debate control of education at AFN meeting in Halifax

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardysaid he hopes these discussions will lead to a new agreement on how First Nations and government can work together.

Chiefs will meet again in December to elect new AFN Grand Chief

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Stan Beardy says First Nations people must have input on the design of a new education system. (Nishnawbe Aski Nation)

Education will be the key topic of discussion Thursday for chiefs at the annual general meeting of  the Assembly of First Nations in Halifax.

Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy said he hopes these discussions can lead to a new agreement on how First Nations and government can work together on the issue.

Beardy said the federal government's proposed First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act failed to actually give control to First Nations people.

He said the residential school experience, a system designed without input from aboriginal people or consideration of who they are, should serve as a cautionary example. 

"It didn't work last time and it will not work again," said Beardy.

The federal government put the education bill on hold in May after it was soundly rejected by First Nations.

Beardy said he hopes this week chiefs can reach an accord on how to work with the federal government to address its concerns, while also acknowledging the concerns of First Nations.

He said he wants to "make sure that this may be the best system in providing success for our children."

Leadership change offers hope of renewal

Dissension over the education act lead to the resignation of former AFN national chief Shawn Atleo earlier this spring, and increased calls to reform and restructure the assembly itself.
Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno says he hopes electing a new AFN leader can bring about change in the organization. (Jody Porter/CBC)

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Harvey Yesno was in Halifax for the decision to select a new leader in December.

He said he hopes the process will lead to some positive changes and "gives us a renewed energy and resolve to look at things that have been sitting dormant."

The new national chief will be chosen at meetings in Winnipeg.