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first nations

The First Nations Education Council (FNEC), a collective of 22 member First Nations communities, signed an education agreement with Canada to provide around $1.1 billion over five years to support a total of 5,800 Indigenous students in Quebec.

The agreement comes after 10 years of negotiations and, according to the government, will serve students by providing culturally appropriate curricula, extra funds for transportation to schools, and over 600 teachers and "specialized resources" for Indigenous students.

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The Mohawk Council of Kahnawake has joined forces with school and community groups to express outrage at the Quebec government's push for new French-language legislation. A community meeting on Monday evening will determine what action the Longhouse takes in response to Bill 96. The new law would force Indigenous students to take an increasing number of French courses within the next two years and be tested for proficiency at the same level as native speakers.

"Our children are now expected to be fluent in three languages? We already have students who are struggling in CEGEP and that's without the new language regulations. We're concerned that the futures of many of our kids will be closed off," Joe Delaronde, spokesperson for the Mohawk Band Council in Kahnawake, told MTL Blog.

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The last several months have been important ones on the path of healing and reconciliation between the Catholic church and First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. In the wake of Pope Francis's historic apology for the horrors of the residential school system, there is also healing and reconciliation to be had closer to home.

In Kahnawake, the remains of an allegedly abusive priest will be exhumed from the cemetery at St. Francis Xavier Mission Catholic Church and repatriated to Saint-Jérôme. This is the starting point for what survivors hope will be a process of healing.

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Pope Francis has issued a formal apology to Indigenous people in Canada for the abuses perpetrated by some Catholics, "especially those with educational responsibilities," at residential schools. The religious leader delivered his remarks to a room of just under 200 representatives of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities — many of whom are residential school survivors who travelled to the Vatican to meet with the Pope this past week.

Over 150,000 Indigenous children in Canada were forced to attend government-funded Christian schools starting in 1831. The last residential school closed in 1997.

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Well, friends, summer is so close I'm pretty sure we can almost reach out and grab it.

READ ALSO: Montreal Experiences Hottest Weather On Record In Over 70 Years

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The First Nations communities of Quebec have made their opinion on Quebec's independence quite clear: if Quebec separates, the First Nations people and their territories will not be joining the province.

Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador told the Calgary Herald that First Nations "have the right to self-determination and this right is not negotiable...Quebec...cannot claim sovereignty over a territory which is still, fundamentally, First Nation."

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