Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-PM laments education gap

Martin says opportunities for native kids lacking

  • Print
Former prime minister Paul Martin (right) greets Manitoba Education deputy minister Gerald Farthing prior to a private dinner in Russell on Tuesday.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Former prime minister Paul Martin (right) greets Manitoba Education deputy minister Gerald Farthing prior to a private dinner in Russell on Tuesday. Photo Store

RUSSELL -- There's an appalling gap between the education opportunities for aboriginal kids and the rest of Canada's youth, says former prime minister Paul Martin.

He's bridging that gap 10, 15, sometimes 20 students at a time.

He'll be doing it this morning at Major Pratt School in Russell, where most of Waywayseecappo First Nation's teens go to high school.

On Sunday, Martin was in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., then Opaskweeyak First Nation near The Pas Monday, and Grand Rapids Tuesday, hopping across the country to boost the education of aboriginal youth.

On Friday, he'll be at Gordon Bell High School in Winnipeg.

Martin goes wherever educators and aboriginal leaders ask him to offer a specially designed business entrepreneurship credit course to grades 11 and 12 students that's now offered in 17 Canadian schools, five of them in Manitoba.

"I believe very strongly that cultural background, traditional values, are an important part of their ability to learn quickly," Martin said in an interview Tuesday evening.

The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative is now in its fourth year, after starting at an aboriginal high school in Thunder Bay serving students from remote communities on Hudson Bay and James Bay.

OCN and Winnipeg's Children of the Earth High School started a year ago -- the other three in Russell, Grand Rapids and Winnipeg started this winter. He lets them have several months of the classes to get comfortable before officially launching them with a personal visit.

Europe has long had success with teaching entrepreneurship, marketing, accounting and business practices in high school, but no one had adapted it to aboriginal culture and practices, and to specific business and economic conditions in their communities, the former Liberal prime minister explained.

His initiative pays for summer training for teachers and supplies the specially developed textbooks; principals choose the students with the best chance for success in small one-semester classes.

It's nonsense to say there's only one successful way of doing business, Martin scoffed.

While it's too early to say if the initiative has succeeded in helping young aboriginal students get a post-secondary education, so far within high schools, "Our attendance rates are much higher than the average of the schools, our graduation rates are higher.

"They're learning everything from marketing to accounting, to how to handle people who work for you, to how do you raise money to get ideas off the ground," Martin said.

"A student in Grand Rapids (Tuesday) morning wants to open an RV park -- there isn't one, and a lot of tourists come," Martin said. "In Fort Simpson, halfway up the Mackenzie River, a student wants to develop an app for securities trading.

"Children of the Earth is one of the stars of the whole panorama," said Martin, who heaped praise on Manitoba's Department of Education for its eagerness in embracing the program.

Martin also lauded Waywayseecappo First Nation and the Park West School Division for their pilot partnership, in which the reserve school has joined the public school division but remains an equal partner in determining how the reserve students will be educated.

Martin lambasted the federal government for inadequate funding of reserve schools and for not providing the same quality of education as public schools.

His Kelowna Accord back when he was prime minister recognized that gap and would have provided billions of dollars to put aboriginal children on a level playing field with kids in the provincial education system, lamented Martin.

"There is absolutely no excuse for the federal government not to provide education funding," he said. "That's immoral, and it's also economically dumb."

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2013 A3

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 6:31 AM CDT: replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Key of Bart - Take It Easy

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A water lily in full bloom is reflected in the pond at the Leo Mol Sculpture Garden Tuesday afternoon. Standup photo. Sept 11,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)
  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will higher pork prices change your grocery-shopping habits?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google