Cabinet Ministers Tour RMWB To Meet With Indigenous Leaders And School Boards

A pair of cabinet ministers were in the region this week to meet with Indigenous leaders and discuss the Northland Education crisis.

Minister of Indigenous Relations Rick Wilson and Minister of Education Adriana LaGrange toured schools across RMWB and its rural hamlets.

Back in June, LaGrange met with leadership at Northland School Division to discuss the challenges affecting their schools – including their high teacher turnover rates.

LaGrange tells Mix News the biggest issue facing Northland has been recruiting and retaining teachers.

“The infrastructure they have in place for teachers to live in has deteriorated to the point that even when teachers do come up, they’re not attractive in keeping teachers because they are substandard homes. So, those issues need to be addressed.”

LaGrange notes this has even been an issue for both the Fort McMurray Catholic and Public-School Districts.

She adds she’s looking forward to addressing these issues in the coming weeks and months

“We discussed the challenges and expectations they have for quality education. I have heard loud and clear what they feel needs to be done and what their concerns are. So, I look forward to working with them and the whole community to make things better.”

Wilson meanwhile was in the region to promote the Alberta Indigenous Opportunity Corporation.

He met with local Indigenous and Metis leaders all through this week to discuss the legislation that looks to help First Nations and Metis gain ownership in oil and gas projects.

Wilson says this will provide these groups with the financial backing they need to help get business ventures off the ground.

“We’ve got a fund to backstop loans with Indigenous people. It’s a hand-up, not a handout and we want to make them partners in prosperity so they can benefit the way all Albertans have.”

Wilson notes he really enjoyed his meetings with local leaders and looks forward to working with them in the coming weeks and months.

He adds hoping to get the AIOC going by the start of the fall session.

“There have been some barriers to that success, and one of them was access and capital. So, we’ve been trying to help to ensure they’ve got that access. Our government is laser-focused on jobs, the economy and pipelines – that’s our motto – and we want to make sure we can get that happening for Indigenous people as well.”

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