OTTAWA– Member of Parliament for Timmins – James Bay Charlie Angus today presented a petition signed by hundreds of students calling on the Federal Government to invest in the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) to fund Indigenous learners.
The petition, collected by the Canadian Federation of Students, is the latest step in a long-standing campaign seeking justice for Indigenous youth after decades of underfunding and broken promises. Recognizing that Indigenous people have a full and complete right to education, the Liberals Government had promised to uphold their treaty obligation by investing $50 million more per year in the PSSSP. Instead, the Government chose to maintain the 20-year 2 per cent cap on funding in their first federal budget.
As a result of the cap, more than 10,000 students are estimated to be on backlog waiting to receive funding to pursue college and university. In order to correct the backlog, the Assembly of First Nations estimates that $141 million in new annual funding is needed in Budget 2017.
“The Government has been dodging questions about the missing PSSSP funding since Budget Day,” said Bilan Arte, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Minister Bennett and Prime Minister Trudeau must answer to the more than 10,000 students who have had to defer their dreams of post-secondary education because of this broken promise.”
Post-secondary education is a right of Indigenous people. This is a right that was guaranteed in several foundational nation-to-national treaties, affirmed as constitutional rights in the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 and identified as an inherent right in Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, endorsed by Canada in 2012.
The Canadian Federation of Students is organising rallies and demonstrations in more than 15 cities on November 2nd demanding universal access to post-secondary education, education justice, and investments in public education. The Canadian Federation of Students represents more than 650,000 college and university students across Canada. – CNW