30 Years of Listuguj Reclaiming Education
Over the past several decades, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government (LMG) and community members have worked to reclaim and strengthen education in Listuguj. In 1992, the LMG government of the day, with the support of the community, decided it was in the best interest of the students to “bring them home” to Listuguj for educational programs and services. LMG created the Listuguj Education Department to oversee the delivery of “culturally enriched education programs”. The Education Directorate oversaw the delivery of educational programs, starting with kindergarten (primary education). In 1997, the band-operated elementary school, Alaqsite’w Gitpu School, opened its doors. During this same period, in 1996, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Development Centre, which provides employment training and services, opened in Listuguj. Over the years, many other education, training, and enhancement programs and services have been implemented, grown, and flourished.
Listuguj maintains its position and assertions of an inherent right to govern its own affairs, including in education. In 2013, the LMG asserted that:
The foundation of our education system is our inherent right to govern our own affairs. We have the legal and moral authority to act in the best interest of the student and to do so without the approval of any other government or its agencies. The authority to develop and control our education system was not given to us by another government; we acknowledged our inherent authority and empowered ourselves to take control of educating our children.
Listuguj’s assertion, in 2013, of an inherent right to govern in education, in part, was in response to the federal government’s attempt to pass a national First Nation Education Act. At the time, Listuguj, like many First Nations’ leaders and grassroots people across Canada, argued that this Act contained and infringed upon Indigenous Peoples control over Indigenous education. In other words, this was an infringement on Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right to govern their own affairs in education. First Nations communities and leaders across Canada rejected the federal government’s proposed Education Act, and it did not become law. In its response, LMG officially rejected the application of Canadian law and proposed to continue to occupy the field of authority over education. At that time, LMG passed an order-in-council creating the Listuguj Council of Mi’gmaq Educators (LCME). LCME has a mandate to “codify the rules that govern our education system.” Since its formation, LCME has deliberated and discussed educational matters, in an advisory capacity, and has supported the work and activities of the present-day Listuguj Education, Training & Employment (LETE).
LETE’s education governance initiative supports Listuguj’s ongoing efforts to reclaim, control, and deliver education programs and services grounded in Mi’gmaw worldviews and concerns for the well-being and best interests of Listuguj learners, their families, and the community.
* References can be found in the document below.