First Nations and Inuit Skills Link Program

This program helps First Nation and Inuit youth acquire essential employment skills and learn about job and career options. It is one of two programs under the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy (FNIYES).

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About the program

The First Nations and Inuit Skills Link Program supports activities that assist young people in acquiring the essential skills that will help them gain employment, function well in the workplace, and learn about job and career options.

Activities may include career promotion, science and technology activities, co-operative education placements and internships and mentored work placements.

The program:

Funding is provided to eligible First Nation and Inuit governments, as well as organizations, schools and employers who then provide activities for First Nation and Inuit youth.

Who can apply?

For the second 2016 call for proposals:

  • First Nations and Inuit governments and organizations
  • First Nations schools or federal schools (only for cooperative education activities)
  • not-for-profit organizations
  • private sector employers

For previous calls for proposals:

  • First Nations and Inuit governments and organizations
  • First Nation schools or federal schools on-reserve

Organizations receiving funding through this program may also enter into agreements with private sector and not-for-profit organizations to support these activities.

Not-for-profit organizations and private sector employers may be eligible for direct funding for activities that provide opportunities for eligible First Nations and Inuit youth and fall within program guidelines. Not-for-profit organizations may be eligible to receive funding to cover up to 100% of eligible expenditures. Private sector employers may be eligible to receive funding to cover funding up to 50% of eligible expenditures.

Eligible youth participants

  • First Nations and Inuit youth aged 15 to 30 who are either:
    • ordinarily resident on reserve or in a recognized community (an approved settlement on Crown land)
    • Inuit who are residents in Canada, but who reside outside their territory, and are no longer eligible to be funded by their territory (proof of refusal is required)

Mentored work placements, including information and communication technology placements, are for youth who are not in school, or are unemployed or underemployed.

Ordinarily resident-on-reserve means that eligible youth live on-reserve, do not maintain a primary residence off-reserve, and may be temporarily off-reserve for the primary purpose of seeking education.

Co-operative education placements are for students in grades 7 to 12 (secondary 1 to secondary 5), enrolled in and attending a federal or band-operated school. For activities promoting careers and science and technology, youth may be younger than 15 years of age.


The deadline to submit a proposal in the first round of applications was May 1, 2016.

The deadline to submit a proposal in the second round of applications was the end of fall 2016.

How to apply?

Applicants must submit detailed proposals for the activities to be undertaken over the course of the agreement and clearly state how the proposed activities will contribute to the objectives of this program.

Proposals must:

Proposals are reviewed and approved by the INAC regional office or the First Nations or Inuit organization managing the program for their member communities. More information is available in the First Nation and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy – Skills Link Program – National Program Guidelines 2016-2017.

For First Nations and Inuit communities, governments and organizations:

A sample proposal form is available. Applicants who have access to the INAC Services Portal should use the electronic form by opening a session on the portal. If you do not have access to the portal, please contact your INAC regional office to get access to the portal. For more information, e-mail or call 1-800-567-9604.

For not-for-profit organizations and private sector employers:


National science camps

The Skills Link Program also supports National Science Camps. Held annually, these camps offer a great opportunity to bring together First Nations and Inuit youth from across Canada. The week of activities is designed to promote interest in science and technology and encourage young people to consider a career in these fields.

The National Science Camps have been held in various regions across Canada.

Photographs from previous National Science Camps can be viewed here:

To find out about the next National Science Camp and how students are selected contact your INAC regional office.


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