The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says it’s time Canada allowed aboriginals to have more say in their education.
Shawn Atleo told an international audience in Calgary that learning is key in giving the country’s one million First Nations people “a hand up” from poverty and despair.
“When we have individuals succeeding in education our people feel it is not because of support ... it’s been despite,” he said Thursday in his keynote address to the Conference of the Americas on International Education.
“It’s meant overcoming tremendous odds in order to achieve success in areas like education.”
Atleo, who has a master’s degree in adult learning, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper took a major step forward recently when he indicated Canada would sign the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“We are very excited that the prime minister would give such a signal that they would do so this year in 2010. It has yet to happen, but we’re going to continue to encourage for that to happen.”
The declaration lays out the fundamental rights and freedoms of the world’s indigenous peoples, although it is not legally binding. It was originally opposed by four countries — the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.