The major political parties have posted their election platforms including where they stand on issues relevant to Aboriginal peoples.

When it comes to education, the Conservatives want to lead an engagement process to develop options for concrete change in First Nations education to bring greater success and opportunities for First Nations students. They also want to expand “basic adult education” in the Territories to help increase education and employment levels. The Liberals will lift the cap on post-secondary education and explore with Aboriginal leaders ways to deliver resources directly to families and students.

Sounds like a lot of the “same old, same old” drivel to me with government promising to fix everything just like in the days of the residential schools. When things screw-up or don’t change as they surely won’t, the government and the people of Canada will be blamed again. Surely after all these years of studies and funding, Aboriginal leaders must know why the drop-out rate is so much higher among aboriginal students than the Canadian mainstream. A cultural shift in attitude towards self-help and education must be driven by the leadership and from within the aboriginal community itself just as the high achievement rates of Asian students in Canada are driven by community cultural values which stress the importance of education. More long winded speeches and reports from government committees telling us what they’re going to do this time, just isn’t going to cut it. Aboriginal leaders need to train their young men and women to take care of their own communities first, by focusing the education in the areas where the communities most need help. Go to any reserve and it won’t take long before you see the obvious need for good plumbers, electricians, carpenters, nurses, teachers and the like. Put a fast track on those basic areas and pay these people accordingly to increase the demand to attain these useful jobs. Then start thinking about lifting caps on ivory tower post-secondary acedemia.

When I hear the Green Party talk about “providing safe drinking water”, their terminology speaks exactly to this patronizing trap which still engulfs both government and aboriginal policy makers. We don’t need to provide aboriginal communities with safe drinking water. Aboriginal leaders need to see to it that their youth are trained to build and maintain the infrastructure to keep their drinking water safe. When it breaks down, it’s their problem and they should be able to fix it themselves. Aboriginal leaders need to stand up and lead their people out of this dependent wilderness so that they can start to pull their own wagon for a change.