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Category: Current Issues

Nurturing the Learning Spirit of First Nations Students: The Report of the National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education for Students on Reserve

Summary: The National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education for Students on Reserve was established by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations to engage First Nations and Canadians in an exploration of First Nation education and to make recommendations for change and improvement.

Our report, entitled “Nurturing the Learning Spirit of First Nation Students”, includes 3 fundamental principles to guide First Nation education reform and 5 recommendations to support the goal of an effective First Nation Education System. We believe that these are practical recommendations that provide a roadmap to the future while pushing for an urgent timeline designed to ensure that improvements begin now.


  1. First Nation Education Reform must be based on the child’s right to their culture, language and identity, and to a quality education that is appropriate to their needs. The First Nation child must always be at the center of this effort through a “child first” commitment that is embraced by all.
  2. First Nation Education Reform must be undertaken in the spirit of reconciliation and collaboration among First Nations, the Government of Canada, and provincial and territorial governments.
  3. First Nation Education Reform must feature a commitment to mutual accountability for roles and responsibilities as well as financial inputs and education outcomes.


  1. Co-create a Child-Centered First Nation Education Act
  2. Create a National Commission for First Nation education to support education reform and improvement
  3. Facilitate and support the creation of a First Nation education system through the development of regional First Nation Education Organizations (FNEO) to provide support and services for First Nation schools and First Nation Students
  4. Ensure adequate funding to support a First Nation education system that meets the needs of First Nation learners, First Nation communities and Canada as a whole
  5. Establish an accountability and reporting framework to assess improvement in First Nation education

Joint Task Force on Education and Employment

The Government of Saskatchewan and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) in March 2012 announced the panelists who will lead the Joint Task Force on Improving Education and Employment Outcomes for First Nations and Métis people in Saskatchewan.

The task force panelists include Gary Merasty, Vice President Corporate Social Responsibility of Cameco, Rita Bouvier, researcher/writer and community-learning facilitator and Don Hoium, Executive Director, League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents of Saskatchewan.

The joint task force will focus on several key goals including:

  • Improved early childhood outcomes and transition to school;
  • Increased high school and post-secondary completion rates;
  • Improved participation in the labour force and employment; and
  • Greater quality of life and enhanced self-sufficiency.

The task force is expected to begin broad public consultations in early spring 2012, with the task force report to be complete early in 2013. Cost of the task force is $2 million.


For more information, contact:

Bonny Braden
Advanced Education, Employment and Immigration
Phone: 306–933-5846

West Baffin Eskimo Co-op

Summary: Incorporated in 1959, the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative (WBEC) was the first Inuit-owned Co-operative to be formed with start-up assistance from the Canadian federal government. Over the next five years, 20 Co-ops were established across the Northwest Territories, from Cape Dorset in the east to Holman Island in the west. Today, there are 35. These community Co-ops were established to provide income, employment and services to their growing communities.

The Co-operative is known locally as Kinngait Co-operative. The word kinngait (pronounced “king – ite”) describes the high, undulating hills surrounding the community of Cape Dorset. Collectively, the Co-op’s world-renowned graphic arts studios are recognized as the Kinngait Studios.

The West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative is wholly owned by its membership, representing the majority of the adult population of the community. All members are residents of Cape Dorset and almost all are of Inuit descent.

WBEC is unique among Co-operatives in the Arctic for its sustained focus on the arts and artists of the community. Arts activities fall under the umbrella of the Producer Division of the Co-op, which includes two fine art printmaking studios in Cape Dorset for stonecut and lithography, and the carving buying operation. The Co-op also operates a retail grocery and supply store. Established in 1960, the store has expanded to keep pace with the growing community and now serves as its Home Hardware and Yamaha snowmobile dealership. The Consumer Division also administers several community service contracts, providing essential services such as the local delivery of heating fuel and gasoline. The Co-op’s most enduring contribution however, to both the community of Cape Dorset and the world beyond has been the prints and carvings produced by its extraordinary stable of artist members.

Report on Equality Rights of Aboriginal Peoples

Source: Canadian Human Rights Commission

Summary: This report describes the impact of persistent conditions of disadvantage on the daily lives of Aboriginal people across Canada. Drawn primarily from Statistics Canada surveys, the report compares Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people across a spectrum of indicators, including education, employment, economic well-being, health, and housing. These comparisons confirm the persistence of barriers to equality of opportunity faced by Aboriginal people.

The report provides as comprehensive a statistical portrait as can be drawn from available data. Aboriginal people living off reserve are better represented in statistical surveys. On reserve, the gaps are significant. In some cases, data is simply not available.

The report shows that, compared to non -Aboriginal people, Aboriginal people living in Canada:

  • Have lower median after-tax income;
  • Are more likely to experience unemployment;
  • Are more likely to collect employment insurance and social assistance;
  • Are more likely to live in housing in need of major repairs;
  • Are more likely to experience physical, emotional or sexual abuse;
  • Are more likely to be victims of violent crimes; and
  • Are more likely to be incarcerated and less likely to be granted parole.

For decades, study after study has chronicled the social injustice faced by Aboriginal people, on and off reserve. This report adds to our understanding by providing an empirical reference point regarding the impacts of systemic discrimination on the equality rights of a group protected by Canadian human rights legislation and international conventions. It is hoped that this report will serve to inform the work of stakeholders and government departments seeking to address these issues.

CMEC – Ministers of Education Acknowledge Landmark Report on Indian Residential Schools

Provincial and territorial ministers of education are pleased to acknowledge the recent release of the final report of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC) on the history of residential schools in Canada.

Ministers note that the current CMEC Aboriginal Education Plan aligns closely with Recommendation 63 of the TRCC report by supporting the professional development of Aboriginal students interested in pursuing teaching as a career; developing teaching resources that highlight the legacy of Indian Residential Schools for use in Bachelor of Education and teacher-education programs across Canada; promoting understanding about the history and legacy of Indian Residential Schools in K–12 education systems across the country; and sharing promising practices in Aboriginal education.

This work is already under way or planned at the pan-Canadian level and in individual jurisdictions, in collaboration with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, according to their unique histories and specific needs.

Wiiji Kakendaasodaa: Let’s All Learn

Source: Julia O’Sullivan, PhD Chief Advisor to Wiiji Kakendaasodaa
Focus: Researchers

Summary: Wiiji Kakendaasodaa was a four-year (2010 to 2014) project designed to improve student achievement in reading and writing.

  • Reading and writing are essential for school success
  • At the age of 9 or 10, students need to read well enough to learn from text and to write what they know and think, or they risk falling behind in all areas in school
  • Reading proficiency at the age of 9 or 10 is the most reliable school-based predictor of high school graduation

Partners in the project were:

  • Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation
  • Walpole Island First Nation
  • Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative
  • Pathy Family Foundation and the Lawrence and Judith Tanenbaum Foundation
  • Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto

Summative Evaluation on Elementary/Secondary Education Program on Reserves

Source: Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada Evaluation, Performance Measurement and Review Branch Audit and Evaluation Sector

Summary: This summative evaluation of the Elementary/Secondary Education (ESE) Program was conducted in time for consideration of policy authority renewal in 2012-13. It follows a formative evaluation of the ESE Program in 2010, which provided a preliminary examination of the state of information on First Nations education at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).

This evaluation was conducted concurrently with the summative Evaluation of Post-Secondary Education programming in order to obtain a holistic understanding of AANDC’s suite of education programming and its impact on First Nation and Inuit communities. The primary objective of elementary/secondary education programming is to provide eligible students living on reserve with education programs comparable to those that are required in provincial schools by the statutes, regulations or policies of the province in which the reserve is located.

AANDC’s elementary/secondary education programming is primarily funded through seven authorities: Grants to participating First Nations and First Nations Education Authority pursuant to the First Nations Jurisdiction over Education in British Columbia Act; Grants to Indian and Inuit to provide elementary and secondary educational support services; Grants to Inuit to support their cultural advancement; Payments to support Indian, Inuit and Innu for the purpose of supplying public services in education (including Cultural Education Centres; Indians Living On Reserve and Inuit; Registered Indian and Inuit Students; Special Education Program; and Youth Employment Strategy); Grants for Mi’kmaq Education in Nova Scotia; Contributions under the First Nations SchoolNet services to Indians living on reserve and Inuit; and Contributions to First Nation and Inuit Governments and Organizations for Initiatives under the Youth Employment Strategy Skills Link program and Summer Work Experience Program.

The evaluation examined the following components of ESE programming: instructional services for Band Operated Schools, Federal Schools and Provincial Schools; Elementary and Secondary Student Support Services; New Paths for Education; Teacher Recruitment and Retention; Parental and Community Engagement; First Nation Student Success Program; Cultural Education Centres; Special Education; Education Partnerships Program; and First Nations SchoolNet.

In line with Treasury Board Secretariat requirements, the evaluation looked at issues of relevance continued need, alignment with government priorities, alignment with federal roles and responsibilities), performance (effectiveness) as well as efficiency and economy. The evaluation’s findings and conclusions are based on the analysis and triangulation of seven lines of evidence: case studies, expenditures analysis, student data analysis, document and file review, key informant interviews, literature review and surveys.

Summative Evaluation of Elementary and Secondary Education – Follow-up Report Status Update as of September 30, 2012

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