Chiefs gather in Ottawa to decide fate of $1.9-billion education bill

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OTTAWA - Chiefs from across Canada are meeting in Ottawa to decide how they will respond to the Conservative government's proposed changes to First Nations education.

Options before a special chief's assembly include rejecting the legislation outright or working with the government to retool the bill in a way that satisfies outstanding First Nations concerns.

Quebec and Labrador Regional Chief Ghislain Picard, who has been the Assembly of First Nations spokesman since Shawn Atleo quit as national chief earlier this month, urged the chiefs to come together and make a decision.

The government has put its proposed changes to First Nations education on hold until the assembly clarifies its stance.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has defended Bill C-33, dubbed the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act, saying it meets the five conditions outlined by the assembly and chiefs during a meeting in December.

Some First Nations groups have criticized the bill, saying it would strip away their rights and give the government too much control, while others support the funding but want changes made.

Organizations: Assembly of First Nations

Geographic location: Ottawa, Canada, Quebec Labrador

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