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Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act becomes law

Legislation allows for Anishinabek to create own education system
Royal Assent - Parliament GCC - Photo by Laura Barrios
Patrick Madahbee, grand council chief for the Anishinabek Nation, expressed his support for the passing of Bill C-61, while Carolyn Bennett, federal minister for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, looks on. (Laura Barrios photo)

The Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act received royal assent on Dec. 13, paving the way for Anishinabek communities to create and administer their own education system.

The Anishinabek is a group of Indigenous peoples that includes the Odawa, Ojibwe, Potawatomi, Oji-Cree, Mississaugas, Chippewa, and Algonquin.

“For so long, having our own education system was a dream, but today, we take a step forward on our journey to building a better education and realizing a better future for our Anishinabek youth,” said Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee in a news release.

The establishment of an Anishinabek Education System is viewed as an act of reconciliation by the participating communities of the Anishinabek Nation and seen as an opportunity to support an education system designed by Anishinabek people for the benefit of the Anishinabek students.

Bill C-61 was introduced in the House of Commons on Oct. 5. The bill is now an Act of Parliament and Chapter 32 in the Statutes of Canada 2017.

A Master Education Agreement signed in August by the Anishinabek Nation and the Government of Ontario recognizes Anishinabek jurisdiction over education on and off reserve from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12, as well as administrative control over funding for post-secondary education.

The Anishinabek Education System is expected to be in place and operational by April 1, 2018.

The Anishinabek Nation is represented by its political arm, the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI), which advocates for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 65,000 people.

The UOI is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its secretariat in 1949.