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Hon. Claudette Tardif:
My question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate. As I advised you in writing last Monday, I would like to ask you a question that was sent to me by Doreen Rabbit of Alberta, who is the chair of the Saint Kateri Catholic School Board and a member of Alberta’s Blood Indian Reserve. Her question is as follows:
In September 2012, Blood Indian parents opened the Saint Kateri Catholic School on the Blood Indian Reserve. We are the only private Catholic school on an Indian reserve in Canada. Our school has met all the requirements from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and our teachers, facilities and school curricula have been granted accreditation by Alberta Education.
Despite this accreditation, the Band Council’s Education Authority has refused to provide the Federal funding it administers for educational services. No reason has been provided for this refusal. The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development states that it is not responsible for funding the school because the responsibility for the administration of education has been transferred to the Blood Band Council under a five year agreement. However, this delegated administrative authority does not empower the Federal Government to violate denominational school rights guaranteed by sections 120 and 121 of the Indian Act.
The Government has a legal duty to respect the denominational school choice of First Nations. Will the Government take action to restore this right and ensure that Government services are provided within a policy framework that respects the existing statutory provisions?