Mr. Speaker, I am rising in the House this evening to request further information in response to a question that I asked previously in the House of the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
My previous question was whether the government would commit, now, to end the 2% cap on funding and provide full and adequate support for first nations education. The response that I received, which is the response that has been given continuously when the question is raised, was that there was a panel reviewing the matter of aboriginal education, and that we will wait and see what it will produce.
I have talked to many first nations leaders, members and elders since I assumed the post of official opposition critic on aboriginal affairs and northern development. The response has been the same from every leader, every member, every organization trying to further improve access to education for our first nations peoples. The response is simple. First nations children deserve the same access to education as all other Canadian children. The request that has been made is to end the 2% cap on funding.
It is the first anniversary of the government finally endorsing and signing onto the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. By that declaration, the government committed, under articles 14 and 15, to redress the historic injustices against the indigenous peoples of Canada.
In those specific articles, the government committed to take action to ensure that aboriginal children have equal access to education. That includes ensuring that the government of the day finally redress the fact that many first nations schools are condemned either because of infestation of snakes and rats or because of mould. These are the kinds of conditions that we expect in medieval times, not in the 21st century.
We have been hearing a lot on the news about the crisis of housing along Hudson Bay. This is the very same community where a campaign was led by a wonderful young Canadian. Shannen Koostachin started the campaign to ensure that the children in her community finally had a school they could go to. The sad story is that Shannen, in travelling to a school outside of her community, was tragically killed in a car accident. The remarkable turnaround is that not only the children of her community but children right across the country have picked up the campaign, called “Shannen's Dream”, which is to bring quality education to all first nations children in this country.
So today again, I am asking the question, when will the government commit? Will it commit now, today, that it will end this discrimination, as it has committed to it internationally and not just to aboriginal children in this country?