After spending last week at the AFN’s Special Chiefs Assembly in Ottawa, Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder is back in the riding. As the NDP Aboriginal Affairs Critic, Crowder met with chiefs from across the country to hear their concerns. She says some very serious concerns came out of a session on First Nations education.

“The number one thing that was on everybody’s mind was the proposed First Nations education act,” she said. “People are clearly concerned about the direction the government is taking and they’re concerned the government isn’t listening.”

Crowder calls the proposed legislation a bureaucratic, top-down approach that will cost a lot of money, but may not improve the quality of education. The AFN’s Chiefs passed a resolution rejecting the bill. Crowder says the government claims it’s open to changing the bill based on comments coming in though the Aboriginal Affairs website. However, she says that remains to be seen.

Crowder also says she heard about long standing concerns over unsettled land claims and treaty rights, including attempts by the government to change agreements they’ve already signed.