Assembly of First Nations regional Chief Stan Beardy wants a meeting of all First Nation chiefs from across the country to discuss the proposed education bill currently before Parliament.
On Thursday, Beardy sent a letter to the AFN executive, invoking part of the AFN charter to request the special session.
"Unfortunately, things are happening so fast there was never any opportunity for chiefs, the decision-makers to dialogue with the national chief ... So, I am trying to create space so that leadership may have an opportunity to debate what’s on the table."
- Visit CBC Aboriginal
- First Nations divided over Education Act and their leadership
- Chiefs vow to do 'whatever it takes' to scrap aboriginal education bill
Beardy wants the special assembly of all chiefs across the country to be held in Ottawa on May 14. He made the call after meeting with Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt on Thursday.
"I asked him what happens if there is a lot of objections by chiefs. 'Are you going to reconsider or try to incorporate our concerns? Are you going to scrap the education act,' and he said, 'No, it's going to go forward.'"
The bill was tabled in Parliament on April 10 and has since generated much debate and division among chiefs, many of whom cite serious issues with the proposed legislation.
Critics say the act puts too much control in the hands of the government and that there was a lack of consultation with First Nations.
Jody Wilson-Raybould is the B.C. regional chief of the AFN. She agrees that the chiefs need to act urgently.
"We were not engaged in spite of many requests to be involved in the drafting of the legislation and the actual policy discussions ... that supports what we’ve developed in B.C, provides a stable funding source, supports First Nation language in schools and provides the appropriate oversight that we’re looking for. "
"We need to understand exactly what’s in the bill. We need an opportunity to discuss it and third is what course of action do the leaders in Canada see going forward?" Beardy said.
Morley Googoo, regional chief from Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, said he's not surprised that the bill has been generating so much division.
"There are over 600 communities out there and … communication hasn’t always been the best on this item. And there is no information, there will be a lot of misinformation created and when there is misinformation created, there is no trust, and then no one is able to make a decision. I think we have fallen into that cycle. A lot of misinformation is out there and that is going to continue to build."
Atleo has come under fire recently for his support of Bill C-33 and a movement to oust him has been gaining momentum on social media. He was unavailabe for an interview, but said he received the letter and his office was working on contacting the executive to determine next steps.
The bill is in second reading in the House of Commons and will soon likely come before committee.