Thunder Bay

First Nations schools need equal funding, local control, chief says

A career fair for Aboriginal students in Thunder Bay is just one example of the way First Nations are directly addressing the needs of their students better than the federal government can, says Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation continues negotiations to improve education

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic says First Nations know best what is good for their students. (Jody Porter/CBC)

A career fair for Aboriginal students in Thunder Bay, Ont.is just one example of how First Nations are directly addressing the needs of their students better than the federal government can, says Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Goyce Kakegamic.

The event, held on Thursday, brought First Nations high school students in the city together with prospective employers to encourage students to stay in school.

High school student Andrew Cheechoo says he's looking for more information about joining the Navy at a career fair for First Nations students in Thunder Bay on Feb. 12. (Jody Porter/CBC)
​Kakegamic said it's important to pay special attention to teenagers, who must leave their remote communities where there are no high schools, to pursue an education in the city.

"They endure culture shock and a lot of them don't quite make it to proceed in their educational pursuits," he said. "Some of them end up in kind of self-destruction because of quitting school."

"That's a challenge that we want to address: how can we help them to be empowered to, in spite of their social challenges, see they can succeed?" he added.

The Nishnawbe Aski Nation continues its negotiations with the federal government seeking more funding and more control over the education of its own children.

Currently First Nations-run schools receive one-third to nearly one-half less funding per student compared to provincially-funded schools.

"The people are saying we know what's best for our children," Kakegamic said, but more funding is required to make it happen.