APTN did an in-depth bit last night on the idea of an Aboriginal school division and had a really good interview with Prof. Brock Pitawanakwat from the U of W’s Aboriginal Governance department.
He’s a fairly young guy and he made a compelling argument for a separate school board. He also took Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson to task for worrying that an Aboriginal school division would ghettoize Native kids and kind of harken back to the residential schools era. Pitawanakwat called Robinson’s comments "disingenuous."
APTN followed up with a long clip from Robinson, who softened his position a little, saying the idea is totally new, needs tons of study and no one has come to the province with a real proposal yet. That’s all true.
It IS paternalistic to assume that a Native school division would somehow be a crappier version of a white one, and I totally get the argument that it would allow teachers to tailor programs and offer courses to help revive and maintain Cree and Ojibway and Dakota and be way more flexible and creative in helping kids coming to Winnipeg from northern reserves.
But I wonder if Robinson doesn’t have a point about ghettoization, that separating kids from a young age does nothing but institutionalize a level of segregation that’s already profound.