These and further steps are required to realize the promise of healing and a new relationship that was made in the 2008 apology. Among all the government and aboriginal people with whom I have met, there is agreement that improving educational outcomes for aboriginal people is a key to addressing many of the other problems facing them. I commend the governments at both levels for placing a high priority on education. However, I have heard remarkably consistent and profound distrust toward the First Nations Education Act being developed by the federal government, and in particular deep concerns that the process for developing the Act has not appropriately included nor responded to aboriginal views. In light of this, I urge the Government not to rush forward with this legislation, but to re-initiate discussions with aboriginal leaders to develop a process, and ultimately a bill, that addresses aboriginal concerns and incorporates aboriginal viewpoints on this fundamental issue. An equally important measure for improving educational outcomes, and one that could be implemented relatively quickly, is to ensure that funding delivered to aboriginal authorities for education per student is at least equivalent to that available in the provincial educational systems.As was stressed to me throughout my visit, it will be difficult to improve educational outcomes without addressing the substandard housing conditions in which many aboriginal people live. Young people described to me the difficulty they have studying in small homes overcrowded by generations of family members. Other social problems have also been linked to these overcrowded conditions, including high rates of tuberculosis and other health problems, family violence, unemployment, and unwanted displacement to urban centres. Overcrowding of homes leads to increased wear and tear and the premature deterioration of existing housing stock, resulting in dilapidated and often unsafe housing conditions.
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