Union of BC Indian Chiefs:
Harper Government’s Changes to Indian Studies Support Program Are Unacceptable
News Release. June 5, 2013
(Coast Salish Territory / Vancouver – June 6, 2013) The Union of BC Indian Chiefs demands that the Federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada overturn its decision to move the Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP) decision-making and funding to its Ottawa headquarters, dissolving the longstanding regional First Nations committee that has overseen the ISSP selection process in BC. ISSP is a program that provides funding to post-secondary programs across Canada and last year it supported about 20 First Nations governed institutes and programs in BC.
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC stated, “This is just one more example of the Harper Government’s ‘father-knows-best’ attitude to First Nations education. Canada is running roughshod over First Nations, making major program changes without any consultation and that is a real step backward. The UBCIC Chiefs Council fully agrees that ISSP funding must continue to be only allocated to First Nations controlled community education programs and Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association Institutes in BC.”
Last week the UBCIC Chiefs Council were briefed on the ISSP decision, deliberated upon and then passed by consensus the attached UBCIC Resolution 2013-15, Indian Studies Support Program.
Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, Chair of the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association representing BC’s approximately 40 indigenous-governed institutes, added, “Our indigenous institutes have faced an uphill battle for recognition and basic funding over the years, but through our BC ISSP committee we have had a strong regional First Nations voice in the process. But now, with a national committee, we could potentially have zero say in the future of this program and how the funding is applied. That is a huge worry for our institutes, some of which rely on ISSP for half their annual budget.”
Tyrone McNeil, President of the First Nations Education Steering Committee, stated, “For over twenty years BC First Nations have been making effective decisions on ISSP with the Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada’s Regional Office, meeting community needs and accountabilities better than any other process. This needs continued support.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, (250) 490-5314
Jennifer White, Senior Communications Officer, First Nations Education Steering Committee, (604) 925-6087