Education Partnership in British Columbia

The education partnership in place in British Columbia is long-standing and comprehensive.

In 1998, an Aboriginal Education Partners Group was founded. This was quickly followed up with a February 2, 1999, Memorandum of Understanding on Aboriginal Education which committed the partners to work together "to improve school success for Aboriginal learners in British Columbia." The MOU was signed by the BC Chiefs Action Committee (on behalf of BC Chiefs), the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs (on behalf of the Government of Canada) and the Minister of Education (on behalf of the Government of BC). Signatories also included the First Nation Schools Association, the BC College of Teachers, the BC School Trustees Association, the BC Teachers' Federation, the BC Principals and Vice Principals' Association.

The MOU led to the formation of a Tripartite Education Committee, which over time, focused primarily on developing a framework through which BC First Nations would assume self-government jurisdiction over education. In addition, the MOU enabled the development of a framework agreement between First Nations and Provincial School Districts promoting the creation of Aboriginal Education Enhancement Agreements. Through these Enhancement Agreements, the Province has made additional investments to improve educational success of Aboriginal students in provincial schools.

In 2003, a tripartite MOU on First Nations education was signed between Canada, BC and the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) outlining elements of First Nations education jurisdiction. This work led, in 2006, to the signing of an Education Jurisdiction Framework Agreement between the three parties as well as the negotiation of bilateral template agreements that would be signed by First Nations drawing down education jurisdiction. This framework of agreements sets out the structures, processes and undertaking aimed at ensuring the provision of education "so as to allow students to transfer without academic penalty to an equivalent level in another school within the school system of British Columbia."

The 2006 Education Jurisdiction Framework Agreement was formalized by the First Nations Jurisdiction over Education in British Columbia Act and the provincial First Nation Education Act.

In November 2009, the Province and FNESC signed a reciprocal tuition agreement, which provides a mechanism whereby BC is able to provide full per-pupil funding for eligible students living off-reserve who are enrolled in band-operated schools, and for eligible non-status students living on reserve lands. This initiative was also an undertaking related to the 2006 Framework Agreement.

In December 2010, the Government of Canada announced a new comparable education approach for First Nations in British Columbia which will ensure that all First Nation students in the province are able to transfer between provincial schools and First Nation schools without academic penalty. First Nations will be able to access this new approach, which includes a new funding model, by signing either an education self-government agreement or by signing onto the Tripartite Education Framework Agreement.

The Tripartite Education Framework Agreement between Canada, FNESC and BC was signed in January 2012.