A 13-member post-secondary education task force has been established to improve education opportunities and outcomes in the North, the federal government announced Friday.
The task force, with a budget of $1 million, will aim to close gaps in education and skills training that exist between the North and the rest of Canada, according to the Government of Canada. The group will also conceive ways to “provide ongoing learning and skills development opportunities, including Indigenous-based knowledge and skills.”
A first draft of recommendations is expected to be completed in winter 2021.
Northerners will be able to provide their input to the task force through its engagement and consultation efforts.
Northern governments, Indigenous organizations and co-development partners to the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework made nominations to fill seats on the task force. The members are:
Rebecca Mearns, Nunavut
Peesee Pitsiulak, Nunavut
James Takkiruq, Nunavut
Malerie Bayha, NWT
Angélique Ruzindana Umunyana, NWT
Kelsey Wrightson, Northwest Territories
Shozrё Melanie Bennett, Yukon
Florence Kushniruk, Yukon
Tosh Southwick, Yukon
James Cook, Manitoba
Ashlee Cunsolo, Newfoundland and Labrador
Jodie Lane, Newfoundland and Labrador
Erika Marteleira, Ontario
“These innovative solutions will be led by Northerners, for Northerners, ensuring that the unique needs of remote and Northern communities are met,” a government news release states. “Through engagement and consultation with Indigenous partners, youth, governments, post-secondary education institutions and leaders, the task force will make recommendations to the Minister of Northern Affairs on ways to address barriers and make post-secondary education achievable for more Northerners.”
Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal added, “Every Canadian deserves a real and fair chance at success, no matter where they live. When more Canadians are able to continue their education, practice new skills, or learn on the job, they are better prepared to find and keep good jobs now, and in the future. As we look beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, the recommendations of this task force will be critical in shaping that recovery.”