OVERVIEW OF THE BENEFITS OF FIRST NATIONS LANGUAGE IMMERSION, WISE PRACTICES FOR INDIGENOUS LANGUAGE IMMERSION, AND PROVISIONS FOR SUPPORTING IMMERSION EDUCATION IN THE FIRST NATIONS CONTROL OF FIRST NATIONS EDUCATION ACT
In the wake of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report into the ‘cultural genocide’ perpetrated by the State of Canada against First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples, through the widespread use of Residential Schools, the federal government offered an apology and an apparent opportunity for reconciliation . Part of this programme was new legislation that would govern the relationship between First Nations and the federal government over First Nations education. Entitled the First Nations Control of First Nations’ Education (FNCFNE), the proposed bill promised a new deal and an apparent chance to renew a tarnished relationship. Yet in spite of its name, the bill offered very little in terms of progress. Indeed if it had been implemented, in many cases, the bill would have done little to increase First Nations’ control over the education of First Nations’ children and likely would have made effective language education extremely difficult. Indeed, this article’s analysis of the bill shows that, at its core, the law represents little more than the reinforcing of existing settler-colonial power dynamics. In particular, while it would have shifted virtually the totality of administrative responsibility for on-reserve education to First Nations it would have reserved ultimate power – manifest through control over funding – to Ottawa. As a result the FNCFNE would have represented a profound step in undermining First Nations language rights and language education in Canada.