Feds cancel buses
Students in Ndilo, Dettah, and Yellowknife to lose program

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (Apr 04/97) - Treaty students in Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah may have to find their own ride to school come September.

The school bus pass program for status children, funded by the Department of Indian Affairs and run by the band, could end with the current school year.

The decision to cancel the program was made a few weeks ago, but DIAND is now reconsidering, according to George Cleary, director of Indian and Inuit affairs.

"It's under review right now and we're waiting to hear back from headquarters in the next week," he said.

Cleary said the department isn't legally required to fund a school bus pass program. "The position that was taken by headquarters was that we're not responsible," he said.

Cleary said the decision to cancel the program was initially made because of increasing costs. When it began in 1991, the annual cost was $13,000. This year, $50,000 was spent busing students to school, in part because non-band members have been using the service.

"It has been including all aboriginals," said Cleary. "And there is a potential for the costs to escalate even more. My understanding is that it was originally meant for students in Dettah and Ndilo. Treaty students living in Yellowknife from other bands are accessing the program."

He wouldn't comment on how the children will get to school in Yellowknife if the program is cut. "I don't even what to guess what would happen," he said.

Parents of non-aboriginals in Yellowknife pay $150 per child each year for bus service.

Yellowknives Dene chiefs in Dettah or Ndilo were not available for comment.