Ministers of Education celebrate National Aboriginal Day

TORONTO, June 21, 2012 ― Provincial and territorial ministers of education are joining with Canadians from coast to coast to coast today to celebrate National Aboriginal Day.

Official observance of National Aboriginal Day was first established in 1996 by then Governor General Roméo LeBlanc as a day to honour the rich cultural heritage of First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples and celebrate their important role in Canada's social, historical, cultural, and economic development.

“National Aboriginal Day provides Canadians with the opportunity to recognize the extensive contribution of Aboriginal peoples to Canadian society,” said the Honourable Ramona Jennex, Chair of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), and Minister of Education for Nova Scotia. “Aboriginal histories, cultures, and values form a rich and integral part of the Canadian experience.”

In 2008, CMEC issued a ministerial declaration, Learn Canada 2020, underscoring the importance of Aboriginal learning and making it a key priority of provincial and territorial education ministers. Ministers of education are committed to eliminating the gap in academic achievement and graduation rates between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and join with Aboriginal leaders in identifying education as critical for growth and development among First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

CMEC has been active on a number fronts in Aboriginal education. In 2009, CMEC held an unprecedented pan-Canadian summit on Aboriginal education that saw provincial and territorial ministers responsible for education, leaders of the five national Aboriginal organizations, more than 40 representatives of regional Aboriginal organizations, representatives from the federal government, and provincial and territorial ministers responsible for Aboriginal affairs come together to discuss ways to improve Aboriginal outcomes in education.

In 2011, CMEC brought together a variety of stakeholders, including educators, academics, governmental officials, and representatives of Aboriginal organizations for the CMEC Educators' Forum on Aboriginal Education to share evidence and experiences of programs, policies, and practices for student success in Aboriginal early-childhood and K–12 education.

CMEC's pan-Canadian collaborative work continues on a number of issues, including regionally appropriate work on Aboriginal-education data collection and research, teacher education, knowledge transfer among all those involved in Aboriginal education, and ongoing discussion with the federal government on Aboriginal education.

This work complements the many ongoing initiatives being taken by provinces and territories, in cooperation with Aboriginal education stakeholders, to make education a positive experience for Aboriginal learners.

While in Halifax for the 100th meeting of CMEC, ministers of education will hear a presentation from the Honourable Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, to learn more about the important work of the commission.

About CMEC

Founded in 1967, CMEC is the collective voice of Canada's ministers of education. It provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels. For more information, visit us at



Colin Bailey
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