An Evaluation of Post-secondary Education (PSE) Institution Support for First Nations Students


The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern. The AFN hosts two Assemblies a year where mandates and directives for the organization are established through resolutions directed and supported by the First Nations in Assembly (elected Chiefs or proxies from member First Nations).

In addition to the direction provided by Chiefs of each member First Nation, the AFN is guided by an Executive Committee consisting of an elected National Chief and Regional Chiefs from each province and territory. Representatives from five national councils (Knowledge Keepers, Youth, Veterans, 2SLGBTQQIA+ and Women) support and guide the decisions of the Executive Committee.


The objective of this Request for Proposals (RFP) is to select a bidder to provide a high quality of professionalism, integrity, and confidentiality for an Evaluation Post-secondary Education Institution Support for First Nations Students (“Evaluation”).

The Evaluation will seek to evaluate PSE institutions in Canada with respect to the supports they provide First Nations students and overall progress towards reconciliation. This project will include the following four components:

  1. Literature Review
    1. A brief environmental scan of existing data on First Nations student experiences in universities. This scan will also include the identification of the unique needs of First Nations students attending public PSE institutions and the barriers facing First Nations students in attending PSE institutions.
    2. An overview of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that PSE institutions can action to build and maintain relationships with First Nations and First Nations students, and to be accountable as institutions that operate and benefit from being on First Nations traditional territory(ies). This will provide the framework by which PSE institutions will be evaluated.
  2. Data Collection
    1. A survey of First Nations student experiences attending a select number of public PSE institutions and First Nations institutions. The Contractors will work with the AFN Languages and Learning Sector and relevant partners, as needed, to identify questions as well as the selection of public and First Nations institutions. The survey may be more widespread than the selected public PSE institutions included in the report card noted below.
    2. A summary of existing commitments from public PSE institutions, including those surveyed, on implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The summary will also include an overview of relationships to First Nations in the territory the institution exists upon, and First Nations student wellbeing. This portion may include a survey of public PSE institutions.
  3. Report
    1. An analysis of the findings from the literature review and data collection components of this project. The summary will provide an analysis on the results of commitments and the experiences felt by First Nations students based on the information gathered. This analysis will use the framework established in the literature review for the evaluation, the commitments made to First Nations by PSE institutions, with the experiences reported by First Nations students. This analysis will support the final evaluation of public PSE institutions in the Report Card.
  4. Report Card
    1. A “Report Card” for approximately 20 public PSE institutions, rating their commitments to First Nations and reconciliation, their follow-throughs (actions), and impacts on First Nations students in a public advocacy document. In developing ratings for the chosen PSE institutions, the Report Card will refer to and summarize the information gathered through the literature review, data collection, and report components of this project.


In 2017, the federal budget announced $90 million over two years for First Nations PSE students and called for a comprehensive review of federal programs supporting Indigenous PSE students. Following discussions to reform First Nations PSE in 2017-2018, the First Nations-in-Assembly supported a First Nations PSE Review Interim Report, which sought new policy authorities for regional processes and models to support PSE.

AFN Resolution 21-2021, 2021 Post-Secondary Education Policy Proposal on First Nations Models, called on the federal government to approve the policy authority for Canada to support First Nations to negotiate, conclude and fully implement their own First Nations-led local, regional, and/or Treaty-based post-secondary education models. These models may include components on relationships between First Nations and public PSE institutions. Further analysis is required to identify how public PSE institutions can better support First Nations students currently in PSE institutions and to facilitate the transition of new First Nations students to PSE.

Further, chronic underfunding is a serious barrier to First Nations PSE attainment. Further analysis with respect to the unique needs of First Nations students, best practices in retaining students and implementing TRC and UNDRIP commitments is required better First Nations students in public PSE institutions.


All proposals will clearly identify the name of the proponent and the project title: Evaluation of PSE Institution Support for First Nations Students.

All proposals will be sent to Director, Renee St. Germain ([email protected]) and received no later than May 24, 2024.  Late submissions will not be accepted and will be returned unopened without exception. Other proposal enquiries may be sent to Julia Stockdale-Otárola ([email protected]).


All proposals shall include the following information:

  1. Project Overview: This section will include credentials, relevant past and current experience, the approach to the scope of work, a timeline for activities, management approach, work statement and schedule.
  2. Capabilities and Experience: This section will highlight relevant experience, skills and capacity, resources and or facilities to support work, foreseeable challenges and how to work with them, examples of recent relevant work.
  3. Project Budget: A detailed cost breakdown inclusive of salaries, resources, travel, materials and payment schedule. The budget should include a virtual meeting for project initiation and another for a final presentation on research.


The AFN reserves the right to:

  1. reject any or all proposals received in response to this Request for Proposals;
  2. enter into negotiation with one or more bidders on any or all aspects of their respective proposals;
  3. accept any proposal in whole, or in part;
  4. cancel and/or re-issue the modified version of a given RFP requirement at any time;
  5. award one or more contracts;
  6. verify all information provided with respect to a given RFP requirement, including the right to request a confirmation of the bidder’s legal status and signed documentation; and
  7. award contracts without competition for follow-up work, if any, to the selected bidder for a given project



Proponents should possess:

  • Expert-level knowledge of First Nation-related social policy cost estimation and analysis with consideration of holistic well-being.
  • Demonstrated expertise in generating primary data sets (quantitative and qualitative) with First Nations and First Nations-led organizations.
  • Experience developing and issuing questionnaires to First Nations and First Nations-led organizations.
  • Demonstrated expert-level knowledge of the Government of Canada’s cabinet and budgetary systems, including central agencies and Parliament.
  • Substantial experience collaborating with First Nations and First Nations-led organizations.
  • Trained in, and have, rigorous data custodial practices governed by OCAP® Principles.

The AFN will select the Proponent(s) which, in the AFN’s sole discretion, best serves the needs of the AFN. The following is a summary of the general considerations that will be used to determine the Proponent(s) that will be selected:


1.      Indigenous involvement and/or capacity


2.      Capacity to do the work


3.      Management of the work


4.      Methodology


5.      Quality of proposal


6.      Price


7.      Quality of the price quote



The following dates are set forth for informational and planning purposes and may be changed at the AFN’s sole discretion.

Description of Deliverables

Due Date
Literature Review August 2024
Draft Summary Report February 2025
Final Summary Report March 2025
Draft Report Card December 2024
Final Report Card March 2025

The timetable is tentative only and may be changed by the AFN, in its sole discretion, at any time prior to the Proposal Submission Deadline.



Contractors must provide a firm fixed price, including administrative fees, travel, material costs, translation, printing of draft concepts and HST. 


Responses to this RFP will be considered as confidential information by the AFN and will be used solely for the purposes of selecting the successful bidder.