The education partnership in Nova Scotia is comprised of several key initiatives and agreements that have been undertaken over a number of years.
A foundational initiative was the Mi'kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada Tripartite Forum, formed in 1997, as a partnership between the Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq, the Province of Nova Scotia and the Government of Canada to strengthen relationships and to resolve issues of mutual concern. The Tripartite Forum has an Education Committee that comprises the Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (MK) education organization (which represents 11 First Nation communities), Nova Scotia’s two other First Nation communities, the Nova Scotia Ministry of Education and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).
Another key element for the partnership is the comprehensive “Master Education Agreement” between MK and the Province in 2008. This Master Education Agreement replaced all existing tuition agreements between school boards and the 10 First Nation bands that made up MK at the time. The agreement secured a common tuition cost for on-reserve students attending provincial schools and provides a reporting structure that tracks performance measures such as achievement and attendance.
The 11 First Nation bands that are part of MK are self-governing in respect of education, having signed onto the Final Agreement with respect to Mi’kmaq Education in Nova Scotia in 1997 (with the exception of Paq’tnkek First Nation, which signed in October 2011). That Agreement states that participating communities shall “provide primary, elementary, and secondary education programs and services comparable to those provided by other education systems in Canada, so as to permit the transfer of students between education systems without academic penalty.” For the two First Nations not part of MK, Millbrook has a K4 program and Glooscap does not have a school.
Through MK’s proposals under the Education Partnerships Program, MK and the Province have included AANDC representation on the Education Working Group. For the joint activities under the Program, MK is also working collaboratively with the other two First Nations in Nova Scotia on partnership activities to build upon the work of the Tripartite Forum’s Education Working Committee.