Launching a new Indigenous education system
It's a huge day for Indigenous people in the Anishinabek Nation.
Teachers, students, and dignitaries gathered Tuesday morning on the Nipissing First Nation, near North Bay.
They were there to celebrate the opening of a brand new education body and the official launch of a new teaching system.
The new education building stands tall on the Nipissing First Nation and leaders say 25,000 Indigenous students and faculty will benefit from it.
Kelly Crawford is the Director of Education for the new Kinoomaadziwin Education Body.
"When a student knows their identity and they know who they are and they have those opportunities to be supported holistically, then there's success." said Crawford.
A board of directors will work to ensure the implementation of the education agreements with Ottawa and with Queen's Park.
23 First Nations are involved in the transformational change that they say will allow Anishinabek control over on-reserve education from junior kindergarten to grade 12.
The new building was only a part of the celebration, the Anishinabek Education System, which was implemented in April, has been officially launched.
Leaders say the AES will deliver cultural education programs to generations of Anishinabek students.
However, it wasn't smooth sailing to get to this day. Negotiations with the federal government have been a long and drawn out process.
"The negotiations themselves took over 20 years with the Government of Canada. It was a very long time. Today is a real celebration, both of our education system and the new building itself." said Anishinabek Nation negotiator Tracey O'Donnell.
When Ottawa decided to jump on board, it came with a pledge of $50-million each year to the project.
"We have communities that are coming out of the emotional scars that are still open with respect to the residential schools. There's that in a lot of people's minds." said Marc Miller, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations.
Indigenous leaders say these partnerships formed with Ottawa and with the province are unique within the country and are unprecedented in Ontario.