Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
Honourable senators, as the Leader of the Government in the
Senate knows, 15 per cent of the Saskatchewan population is
Aboriginal. As our honourable colleague has indicated, that
population is growing rapidly, so that in a few years' time,
50 per cent of the population under the age of 25 will be
Currently, 40 per
cent of First Nations students in Saskatchewan who are
enrolled in post-secondary education attend the First
Nations University of Canada. We all know that
post-secondary education is a major means to escape the
cycle of poverty and to contribute socially and economically
to the well-being of the whole province. It has recently
been shown that Aboriginal women with degrees earn as much
or more than non-Aboriginal women with degrees. It is
vitally important that Aboriginal women get degrees.
If this government truly believes in
the advancement of women — that we need to look at the
empowerment of women, as Senator Keon has stated earlier —
how can it not then fund the major institution that is
educating and empowering Aboriginal women?
Honourable senators, in my previous answers I dealt
specifically with the First Nations University in Regina.
The government absolutely believes in the importance of
education in our Aboriginal communities. That is why since
2006, we have invested $395 million for the completion of 94
school projects. Canada's Economic Action Plan
provided for 10 new schools and three major renovations. The
Building Canada Plan provides for eight new schools or
renovation projects. I have said this to the honourable
senator before. Last year we also invested more than $100
million over three years for the Aboriginal Skills and
Employment Partnership and $75 million in the new Aboriginal
Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund.
I cannot understand how the honourable
senator could stand there and say the government is not
taking this issue seriously, when clearly we are taking the
issue seriously and investing considerable sums of money
into the betterment of the education system for Aboriginals.