The Chiefs Committee on Education says the Yukon government needs to start working with Yukon First Nation to help them implement their own educational programming in the territory.
The Chiefs Committee on Education expressed their continued frustration today regarding an Audit General of Canada's report highlighting how the Yukon Department of Education is not meeting the needs of many First Nation students in the territory.
Highlighted in the report was Yukon Government's shortcomings in providing scheduling and implementation of Yukon First Nation language protocols, with Committee Chair and Kluane First Nation Chief Bob Dickson saying today that's it's time for them to start working with First Nations communities in developing their own Indigenous educational programming.
Chief Dickson says the government needs to recognize the different ways of Indigenous learning for Yukon First Nation students.
"First Nation and Indigenous people have a more traditional way of learning that is more oral than the European way of learning where everything is in book and on text. I think we have to find a balance in between the Yukon First Nations way of learning versus the European way of learning. You can't just stuff an Indigenous individual into a school and say ""you're going to learn this way""... Our people have lived on this land for thousand of years based just off oral communication."
Dickson says talks with the Yukon government haven't been constructive given the different visions of educational programming for students.
"The discussions are going poorly. We just had a meeting with the minister on June 18th and we laid out the options that the First Nations see moving forward. As true partners, Yukon Government can't just come up to us and say ""this is what we're going to give you and you take it"". True partners mean we work together, we develop solutions, and we move forward together. It's not a take it or leave it attitude."
Dickson highlights building new First Nation schools in communities or rather just giving more jurisdiction to First Nations on their educational programming as options still up on the table.
Dickson also says he has a personal connection to the struggles his own First Nation faces with educational programming.
"There is a school in Destruction Bay called the Kluane Lake School. It only goes up to grade 7. Once they move on into high school, they have to leave the community. What's been happening since the 1950's is students and their families have to leave the community. They have to come either to Haines Junction or Whitehorse to go to school. The Kluane First Nation has asked the the minister to step in and hire a high school teacher for that school so we could build capacity and keep our students and families in the communities. The minister has denied that request."
Minister of Education Pauline Frost has since commented on the report, saying her government will work on achieving the audit's recommendations.