Cuts to local education miss the mark on funding gap commitment: Hughes

Elliot Lake  – The Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute (KTEI) is exactly the kind of programming that makes a real difference for First Nations students and their communities, which is why it’s so difficult to understand why federal funding would suddenly dry-up, according to Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing, MP, Carol Hughes.

Hughes was commenting on news that the federal portion of the institute’s funding has been cancelled which she says runs counter to promises the Liberals made during the election.

“This is the first time in 20 years that funding has been denied,” said Hughes.  “This threatens the institute and stands in stark contrast to the government’s commitment to close the First Nation education gap.”

Hughes echoed concerns raised by the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising (UCCMM) in a letter sent to the Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Development about the loss of federal funding for the institute which offers college and university training opportunities for 50-75 students a year.

“As I understand it, the biggest challenge is the constant struggle to secure the resources needed to create better opportunities for Indigenous students,” said Hughes. “The province is still on board, but the problem has become the impending loss of federal government partnership.”

The UCCMM explains how distributing Post-Secondary Partnerships Program funding to mainstream colleges and universities has come at the expense of community-based learning.  Caught up in the funding struggle are the students who benefit from KTEI’s programs.

“It's critical that the funding continues to flow to KTEI for the students who are the most important component in this whole dilemma,” said UCCMM Chief Executive Officer,  Hazel Recollet. “We are so fortunate to have an Institute with immense knowledge like KTEI.  And it's local so students don't have to leave home - it's all right here.“

Hughes says she has written the Minister asking her to meet with UCCMM officials to find a solution as quickly as possible.

“The school year is just about to start so it’s critical that this process gets moving,” said Hughes.  “I am confident there is a solution that will maintain this institute and others like it.  The opportunity it allows these youth is well worth a little extra effort all around.”