The group is upset the centre is slated to close at the end of July.
Centre officials claim their current budget isn't enough, but the provincial government says no more money is available.
Kelly L'Hirondelle with the United Native Nations says welfare rules are holding people back.
"If you're on welfare you can't go to school. So that's one of the main reasons for a bit of a dip in enrollment. As well, a lot of the funding is directed to non-aboriginal-governed institutions, and many aboriginal people feel more comfortable in an aboriginal institution."
L’Hirondelle says wage parity is also an issue, and the centre only wants a one-point-five million dollar increase to keep running.
The native education centre opened in 1967 and offers adult basic education and cultural classes.
Typical example of the White man's lies and talking out of both sides of his face. The BC Liberals talk this game about a "New Relationship" with the First Nations in BC, but they pull the rug out from under them at each turn. Where is the "respect, recognition and reconciliation of Aboriginal rights" to support and assistance in education for their people in the decision to close down a valuable resource to the community. How does this make "BC the Best Place on Earth" for Native people? Maybe if you continue to the tradition of keeping First Nations people down, deprived of an education and information they will continue to be kept in their place, under the thumb of colonialists like the BC Liberals, while they rip the resourcesfrom the land and traditional territories from them.
Statement from Chief David Walkem, Chair of the NEC, the largest, most well established college for Aboriginal people in BC:
“This decision has not been taken lightly and the Board of Directors looks back proudly at serving the needs of the Aboriginal community by providing post secondary training in a traditional long house setting since 1967,” Chief David Walkem said
A combination of factors and changing trends has contributed to this decision:
- Provincial and Federal policy changes to social assistance that have had an adverse impact on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged Aboriginal students, providing funding challenges that restrict their ability to improve their economic circumstances.
- Declining enrolment.
- Recent competition from publicly funded post secondary institutions offering similar or competing programs.
- An insufficient level of funding from the Provincial Government and the inability of our students to pay tuitions that would enable the college to attract and retain employees with competitive wages and benefits in a challenging job market.