Evidence of meeting #145 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was education.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Lance Roulette  Sandy Bay First Nation
Virginia Lukianchuk  Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

9:55 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

No, the local rural municipalities are quite a ways away, so it would be a good 45-minute bus trip for a child to go to that school, plus that school isn't very big. It's only, I think, up to grade 7. They bus their high school kids even further, which takes another hour.

9:55 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Are there any private institutions offering education in your community?

9:55 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

We did have some engagement with Pine Creek School Division, Frontier School Division and MFNERC.

I guess the feeling around is that it doesn't truly reflect what a community-driven model would be for Sandy Bay in the realm of education. We have expressed some interest in that before, but the direction from our elders and our youth is to not only maintain that control but also to find a way to enhance access to more programming, mainly in the areas of compulsory programming and land-based cultural funding.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Okay.

10 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

Also, there is a bit of a relationship between the University of Manitoba, Red River College and Assiniboine Community College. They'd be willing to come to the community if we had some way to work out a deal with them to deliver post-secondary courses on reserve.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

One of the things we hear all the time is that there's never enough money for all of the things we'd like to do. But with the control of the money, at least, you can make the decisions. You can control where the money goes. How does the money flow through for education? Who is making those decisions? Is it the parents, the students, the elders, the band and council, a bureaucrat in Ottawa?

10 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

With the introduction of new interim funding and the task force in place from the Manitoba region, as well as our efforts on the issue of funding parity, we had a huge discussion on exactly how those future funds are going to flow.

We are in the midst of giving the school control over those funds and gearing them specifically towards the development and education of the child. The accountability required to ensure that the child has the best quality education is always key. With the new interim funding, we're hoping that we'll be able to achieve that goal. We are in the midst of preparing a declaration with the school director and the school representatives to ensure that any money that comes in will go into programming, where it should be, rather than being absorbed into the overall band operations.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

One of the things I've learned from education around the world is that when parents are engaged in their child's education, the children often do a lot better.

How are parents integrated into the system? Is there an opportunity for them to do a check-off on the money that flows through or anything like that?

10 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

No, we don't have that model in place yet, but we're working towards ensuring that parental involvement is a key factor. The issue of mentorship, extracurricular involvement, is also a factor in the development of any child in our school.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

How would parents be involved in the education system in your community at this point?

10 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

At this point, it's very minimal. We're hoping to improve that once we get a firmer footing as to how the model of a parental committee is going to influence the curriculum.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Okay.

Yes, Ms. Lukianchuk.

10 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

I would just note that we do follow a governance model at the community level. The community is brought together. Questions are asked about what we should be following, and then the direction is given. That involves the parents of the community.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

My experience in these communities is that there's very much a sense of family. It involves the elders and everything. How are the elders included in your education?

10 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

The elders actually have a room at the school right now. They are really involved with the youth. They're there through everything, for the whole day, giving advice to the youth and giving advice to the teachers. That model has been there for a very long time.

You hit the nail on the head when you talked about family. In a first nations community, everybody knows everybody. It doesn't matter how large you are. We are like a huge family. It's a totally different structure from any non-first nations community. We're there for each other. If somebody gets hurt, everybody is there at the hospital. We've had to work with the province in allowing some of these things. We are a big family. We're related to each other.

10 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Thank you.

10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

The questioning now moves to MP Rachel Blaney.

10 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate what you've taught us today.

I just want to make sure I understood you right. You have a school where you have kindergarten to grade 12, and within that school you're able to encompass the traditional language and a lot of the practices. Is that right?

That's amazing.

One thing they talked about was that the provincial resources for communities of a size similar to yours have more significant funding than the community you represent. Could you talk a little bit about what that difference is?

10:05 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

A lot of services, for example, that are available in the province aren't available to a first nation. We're just now starting to make a little bit of a relationship with the province in relation to some of these availabilities to the community. For example, there are healthy living courses available through the province that aren't available to our first nation.

When we look at the core components of a non-first nations community versus a first nations community, we see a huge disparity. The federal government funds only the mandatory programs to a first nation, not the other supporting programs that are available to every other Canadian—or every other Manitoban, in our case.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you.

You also mentioned earlier that the curriculum is two years behind. Can you tell me a little bit more about what that looks like and what sort of supports are needed to get that curriculum up to speed?

10:05 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

In relation to the curriculum and some of the supports that are needed, I think the chief alluded to it a little bit in regard to the services that MFNERC is supposed to be providing. Funding was given, which I guess at the time was the Jordan’s principle program, that was supposed to help provide youth in the school system with services that would help them in the education system. Currently, that isn't happening. We're seeing a large number of youth who are requiring speech therapy. There are no speech therapists coming to the community, or one is coming maybe once every second month to deal with the 297 students who require that service; I think that was the number we looked at. They're not up to par in terms of where their education level should be.

Chief, I'm not sure if you wanted to expand on that.

10:05 a.m.

Sandy Bay First Nation

Chief Lance Roulette

Yes, I could add to that.

As has been clearly reiterated, there are specialized services that we require, and they're not being met. I'd like to put in a personal experience.

My daughter has not received the assessment tools that are required for her or the school in order to understand exactly what her learning disabilities are. She is now 16 and is going into grade 7. She was basically passed on and put into the next grade without the actual assessment tools, which hindered her ability to comprehend some of the information, but also, not only that, her hearing disabilities were not recognized until recently, when I got an assessment done on her.

There were a lot of things that we failed to do, not only as parents but also as educators. It really broke the spirit down in me to be saying that I should have been more proactive in the issue of advocacy, but also, the tools and the funds that go to another program hinder us in identifying what learning disabilities our kids have. She is one of many.

It's great that you brought up that question, because we need to ensure this if we're going to give the best quality of education. We require these tools, and we require this specialized training even if we have to train our own to do it.

10:05 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

That would be the best thing: to train our own people to do it.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

You talked about having teachers who have been trained, so a large part of the teachers who are teaching at your school are from the community. Is your ability to retain those folks fairly strong? Or do you have a hard time keeping your own members who return with that education?

10:05 a.m.

Assistant Director of Health, Sandy Bay First Nation

Virginia Lukianchuk

No. We have really good retention in regard to teaching. Even in nursing, for example, we have I think 10 nurses in the community, and eight of them are from the community, so that really helps with retention. We don't have the turnover that normally happens, especially in the medical field.