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3 more B.C. First Nations gain control over on-reserve education

At a ceremony on the Capilano Reserve, three First Nations celebrated agreements with the B.C. and federal governments that put control of on-reserve education in their hands.

The Squamish Nation, the Canim Lake Band and the Ditidaht First Nation now have authority over teacher certification, curriculum and graduation requirements, among other things.

Children sang and drummed for gathered dignitaries during the Monday morning ceremony.

"Very emotional, but at the same time very empowering because you know the future is bright for our little ones,” said Squamish Councillor Wilson Williams.

Both of Williams’ parents are residential school survivors and he says taking back control of education means children can reconnect with language, culture and traditional practices.

"Our identity was forcibly taken away from Indigenous people. We weren't allowed to practice who we are and where we come from,” Williams said. “We weren't allowed to share our language or practice ceremony."

The Cowichan Tribes, Lil’wat Nation, Seabird Island and St. Mary’s Indian Band signed similar deals last year.

All seven work closely with the First Nations Education Authority, which assists them in delivering on-reserve education.

"It's really breaking apart the definitions inside of education and reframing it to say we are here, we have not been eradicated and we aren't going anywhere,” said Yvonne Wallace, FNEA’s vice-president.

Discussions over school jurisdiction in B.C. have been underway for more than 20 years.

Education Minister Rachna Singh took part in the ceremony.

"This is historic and I would say that many more First Nations will be coming,” Singh said. "What we witnessed today, I'm really hoping for many such ceremonies in the future." Top Stories

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