Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What About the Students? - Open Letter to AANDC SK Region











April 30, 2014



Dear Ms. Anna Fontaine,

We recently were doing some background review of funding we received from AANDC (INAC) since our inception. Here is the financial breakdown since 2005 for funding received from AANDC.

Academic year ending 2005 -   $389,000 Start-Up
2006 -   $280,000
2007 -   $280,000
2008 -   $252,200
2009 -   $294,000
          $1,495,200   Subtotal

2010 - $1,294,596
2011 - $1,240,348
2012 - $1,314,106
2013 - $1,516,539
Projected 2014 -    $900,000
$6,265,589 Subtotal

$7,760,789 Total

AANDC’s investment over the nine years is $1424 per course. That’s taking 5447 course credits over the nine years and dividing it by the $7.7M.  Looking at it another way, a total of 3005 First Nation students, living on reserve, have been positively impacted by Credenda, receiving credits towards their graduation.  We started out in five communities and currently have a presence in thirty-six communities.

Reviewing the history of our first four years of funding, we received New Paths For Education Program funding, however much of our costs were subsidized by the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC).  Each of our Credenda staff were employed by PAGC, and were required to do other duties in addition to Credenda. What is important to note, at the time AANDC did not fund us at a higher level because AANDC was worried that online education would not work.  Credenda was constantly being asked to prove or show that online learning works. We were under considerable scrutiny to prove ourselves. When AANDC finally received assurances that we were providing good results, we were able to secure a CFA for ourselves as a school. Our funding increased because we were no longer attached to PAGC and we were able to access all the funds.  It is interesting to note that at the time AANDC was seeking assurances from us, Credenda was being held up nationally as a flagship project by AANDC.

This is an ethical and moral issue. We have proved ourselves; we have demonstrated results; we have been held to a higher level of accountability than other schools; all to have it taken away because someone or some collective of people decided what was good for Credenda and our students. The challenge we are faced with is that every time we appeal to AANDC’s good nature, we feel that we are being self-serving. But if we don’t speak up for the students, who will? We are getting BCR’s of support from Chief’s and Council’s, but many of them have their own issues, and Credenda hasn’t topped their list of priorities.

In our discussions with a number of Members of Parliament, some have obviously made a call to AANDC to obtain their information and are just saying that AANDC does not provide core funding or base funding for Credenda. They are simply restating the thought that Credenda is a service and not a school. However, there are those MP’s who have raised the question, and a valid question at that. “How can AANDC expect a school to operate without any base funding, since they have to plan and hire teachers, like any other school without any guarantee of student enrollments?” We have been asking ourselves the same question for the past year and a half when all this discussion came to the table. It certainly has not helped when a few bureaucrats seem to have had their own agenda with regard to educating us on how to run a virtual school.  Being told in a meeting by an AANDC individual within the Saskatchewan Region that ‘we do not have to listen to you, we can do what we want’ does not, in any way, seem supportive towards our organization and towards the need to ensure that our First Nation students are able to receive required courses for graduation, wherever they live.  Yes, we have to operate like a business, but we are still a school. Look at any school division in Saskatchewan and the Director of Education is now called the CEO, but it is still a school division totally reliant on government funding to operate.

It is becoming more clear that AANDC does not have the best interest of First Nations students as their primary objective. If they did, this would not be an issue. Just look at Bill C-33, it only references “learning” two times in the entire legislation. We are here to facilitate student learning. That's why this whole process is so grievous to us as school administrators. We hear the stories of sorrow, sadness, brokenness, addiction, loss of dignity, from our students and we cannot help but care for those hurting students. We are giving them hope to succeed and better their lives and not have to be dependent on the system for their livelihood. All this is lost to save a few dollars? Are not our First Nation students worth and deserving of more?

We really need to hear from someone in AANDC regarding our funding issues, and we hope it will come from you. We have appreciated your public support for us in the past. However, we are frustrated with the lack of communication from other AANDC individuals after we have sent numerous emails, left messages, and scheduled meetings that were cancelled without advanced notice. I hope that we can hear from you very soon, as we have little time to resolve matters before it becomes too late for Credenda to recover from the shortfall of funding.

Thank you,


Vincent Hill
Executive Director



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