AFN BULLETIN – UPDATE: First Nations Education May 2018

Published: May 15, 2018Bulletin

First Nations Control of First Nations Education

The work and progress in the area of education is guided by direction from Chiefs-in-Assembly and the long-standing goal of achieving First Nations control of First Nations Education.  First Nations control of First Nations Education means respecting, protecting and enforcing First Nations inherent rights and Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction. It means First Nations education systems under First Nations control and based on First Nations design, supported by direct transfers from the federal government.

While efforts continue for adequate funding and student supports, First Nations control of First Nations education is happening now in nations across the country.  Through the efforts of educators, leaders and experts across the country, courses and curricula delivered in First Nations controlled schools and institutes are beginning to reflect the perspectives and foundations of First Nations traditions and worldviews.  These important changes have led to an increasing number of relevant approaches to education that strengthen First Nations identities and dramatically improve opportunities for success. This is reconciliation in action.

It’s often said that everyone has a role in reconciliation.  One role for First Nations is to help share with Canadians our stories, our shared history and our future goals.  The AFN has prepared a digital education resource with the goal of helping to prepare non-First Nations educators.  “It’s our Time First Nations Education Toolkit” provides culturally relevant, accessible, hands-on educational tools to teach First Nations cultures and history.  The Toolkit provides First Nations and non-First Nations learners, teachers, schools, institutions and the Canadian public with a resource that fosters a spirit of cooperation, understanding and, most importantly, action.  The Toolkit is currently available at

Memorandum to Cabinet: Unlocking Investments for First Nations Education

We acknowledge and highlight success to date in achieving First Nations control of First Nations education, yet there continues to be barriers to student success.  Helping to secure fair funding for First Nations children and students remains a key priority for the AFN.  Federal funds for education were set aside in the 2016 federal budget.  Earmarked for “Transforming First Nation Education,” approximately $665 million will be available soon to First Nations across the country to design their own regional funding agreements based on real needs.  Based on direction from Chiefs-in-Assembly, the AFN Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) is working with the office of the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada on a Memorandum to Cabinet that will make these funds available to First Nations.

A Memorandum to Cabinet is a document used by a Minister to propose and explain a new measure or new initiative and to obtain cabinet approval.  In this case, it is a necessary step to achieving policy and program change for federal education programming and funding.

First Nations and the AFN have been advocating since 2001 for policy and program reform that provides core funding for education directly to First Nations governments, education organizations and schools. The intent of the Memorandum to Cabinet is not to develop federal legislation for First Nations education and the federal government will not delegate any education responsibilities or funding to any provincial or territorial government. Efforts toward the Memorandum to Cabinet are based on respecting, protecting and enforcing First Nations inherent rights and Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction.  The goal is to allow for direct transfers to First Nations governments for First Nations education. Jurisdiction will remain with each First Nations Chief and Council.

For more information about the Memorandum to Cabinet process please visit or connect directly with the Chiefs Committee on Education representative in your region.

First Nations Post-Secondary Education Federal Review

The federal government is conducting a review of First Nations post-secondary education funding as part of commitments made in Budget 2016.  The AFN is working with First Nations education experts who are facilitating the development of a report and recommendations to be incorporated into the federal review.

Technical teams made up of First Nations leaders, learners, directors of education and representatives from First Nations education institutes from across the country are currently reviewing federal post-secondary education programming.  With the help of independent facilitators, the two technical tables (one to address the needs of First Nations students, the second to address the needs of First Nations education institutions) are analyzing current funding structures and identifying gaps and opportunities for improvement.  These teams will provide recommendations with the intent to create policy changes that will improve access to post-secondary education and improve supports required for student success.

The AFN anticipates a report with recommendations will be available for review by Chiefs-in-Assembly in July 2018. For more information and to hear more about the review process from technical team members visit