First Nations education transformation: Engagement 2016-2018

From Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada

Current status: Closed

The engagement started on November 2, 2016 and ended on March, 31 2018.

On this page


The Government of Canada recognizes that enhancing First Nations education is a fundamental part of renewing the relationship with Indigenous peoples. First Nations children and youth deserve culturally appropriate, high-quality education that meets their needs, while respecting the principle of First Nations control over First Nations education.

Previous reports and recommendations have called for:

The Government of Canada is committed to working collaboratively with First Nations to develop and implement these positive changes; and to establish a new partnership on First Nations elementary and secondary education.

Through the funding announced in Budget 2016, the government made significant investments to ensure that First Nation children on reserve receive a quality education and that education outcomes are improved. This includes:

These investments are only a first step.

The Government of Canada is seeking input on further improvements through this engagement.


At the regional and local level, the Government of Canada will engage with:

The Government of Canada will work with education stakeholders in the territories to plan an engagement process that ensures that the voices of Indigenous individuals in the North are heard. While this process is being developed, Northwest Territories Indigenous groups and Yukon First Nations can expect ongoing program delivery to continue under existing frameworks. In the territories, the territorial governments currently deliver elementary and secondary education programs.


The Government of Canada acknowledges that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work, and further discussion and dialogue must build upon existing knowledge and previous discussions with First Nations. That is why we have launched this engagement.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) has been working closely with various First Nation partners to design and implement an inclusive and comprehensive engagement process aimed at developing recommendations for strengthening First Nation student success. This is in response to Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Resolution No. 16/2016, which calls upon the Government of Canada to engage in an honourable process with First Nations to support education reform.

A Joint Working Committee has been established with representatives from INAC, the AFN, the Chiefs Committee on Education and the National Indian Education Council to work together to address various issues of importance to First Nations education.

This engagement has five parts:

1. Community-level discussions

In 2016-2017, the Government of Canada provided up to $3.6 million to support community-level discussions led by First Nations organizations. These meetings provided parents and community members with the opportunity to share their views on what needs to be done to ensure that all First Nations students receive a quality education that improves student success.

These discussions were funded through a specific call for proposals under INAC's New Paths for Education program, designed to support First Nations education transformation community-level discussions in all provinces in Canada.

These discussions are now complete. Find out What we heard from the community-level discussions.

2. Online survey

In order to hear from as many voices as possible, and provide a forum for those who may not be able to attend community-level discussions in person, INAC launched an online survey in February 2017. This survey collected input from those with experience and interest in First Nations education on the way forward. It was shared through Facebook and Twitter. The information from the survey will also help inform the technical task teams and the leadership dialogue parts of the engagement.

Consult the survey report called Let's talk on-reserve education.

3. Task teams

In January 2017, technical task teams were launched to examine key issues.

The teams are joint technical discussion tables established by regional First Nation organizations, the AFN and INAC. They are jointly led by subject matter experts from First Nations organizations and INAC, and may include participants from other Government of Canada departments. Discussions are ongoing and include:

  • The Funding Mechanisms Task Team examines options and makes recommendations for improving the way INAC funds First Nations K-12 education. The objectives are to:
    • share research and regional frameworks on funding mechanisms
    • discuss options for transferring existing proposal-based funding into core funding structures and agreements
    • develop options to modernize current education funding methodologies
  • The Education Statutory Funding Task Team examines how to establish statutory funding for First Nation education. The objectives are to:
    • share research and analysis related to statutory education funding
    • develop options for achieving a statutory or legal guarantee of funding
  • The Post-Secondary Education Task Team will make recommendations related to post-secondary education funding for both First Nation students and Indigenous institutes of higher learning. The objectives are to:
    • identify gaps in current First Nation post-secondary education funding, as well as costs associated with closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous post-secondary achievement
    • review the Government of Canada's post-secondary education programs, and suggest options that will meet the needs of First Nation post-secondary students
  • The Early Childhood Education Task Team examines and shares technical expertise and knowledge to best support high-quality First Nation early childhood education.The objectives are to:
    • examine regional differences and best practices regarding the implementation of early childhood education in First Nation schools
    • identify the necessary supports and propose recommendations for early childhood education programming for First Nation schools and students
    • identify ways to improve access to quality early childhood education for First Nation students
  • The Measurement and Mutual Accountability Task Team worked towards the development of a results framework for First Nations K-12 education from January to June 2017.
  • The Northern and Remote Task Team had its first meeting in September 2017.

More task teams will be established to support other key issues as they emerge.

The Joint Working Committee has endorsed operational terms and outlined the following roles and responsibilities to support the task teams:

  • members are recommended by the National Indian Education Council, AFN, and INAC, and approved by the Joint Working Committee
  • members are expected to have the knowledge and expertise to support task team work 
  • external presenters and experts may be asked to participate from time to time

4. Leadership dialogues

The Government of Canada is formally engaging with First Nations leaders in the regions through a series of leadership dialogues. These dialogues are organized by participating First Nation organizations across Canada, and are intended to bring together chiefs and other community leaders on First Nation education. INAC is funding these organizations to hold leadership dialogues:

  • Chiefs Of Ontario
  • Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak
  • Southern Chiefs' Organization
  • Mi'kmaq Confederacy of PEI

5. Regional technical discussions

Regional technical discussions are also funded by INAC so that First Nation organizations can convene regional experts to further advance the national task team objectives at a regional level and support the identification of regional priorities at the leadership dialogues. INAC is currently welcoming proposals to support these discussion within regions. These organizations are being funded to hold regional technical discussions :

  • Chiefs Of Ontario
  • Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre
  • Three Nations Education Group, Inc.
  • First Nations Education Initiatives, Inc.

Building on the work of the task teams and informed by other engagement activities, the leadership dialogues and regional technical discussions aim to validate regional priorities for transforming First Nations education and improving student outcomes, as well as options for reforming the way INAC funds First Nations elementary and secondary education.

How to participate

There are 7 ways to participate:

  1. Attend a community meeting (now closed, consult What we heard from the discussions)
  2. Fill out the online survey before April 30, 2017 (now closed, consult the survey report called Let's talk on-reserve education).
  3. Participate in a task team (by invitation only)
  4. Participate in a leadership dialogue (by invitation only)
  5. Participate in a regional technical discussion (by invitation only)
  6. Send an email to
  7. Send a letter to the address in Contact us

Related links

Contact us

First Nations Education Transformation: Engagement 2016-2018
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada
10 Rue Wellington, 23rd floor
Gatineau, QC K1A 0H4

Did you find what you were looking for?

What was wrong?

You will not receive a reply. Don't include personal information (telephone, email, SIN, financial, medical, or work details).
Maximum 300 characters

Thank you for your feedback

Date modified: