Education transformation: What we heard from the community-level discussions
Summary of the discussions
From January to April 2017, more than 33,000 individuals participated in community-level discussions across Canada about First Nations Education Transformation. This included parents, community members, education staff, students, youth, Elders, and First Nation leaders. Discussions focused on a range of topics, and differed from region to region and from community to community. Several themes emerged, including:
- First Nation control of First Nation education should be the first principle of transformation, and any action that the Government of Canada takes should be focused on strengthening that control.
- Preserving and promoting First Nation languages and cultures is key. Increasing language and cultural activities in schools helps ensure that First Nation languages and cultures will be maintained for future generations, and that children who learn about cultural activities will continue to practice them through adulthood.
- Greater parental, Elder, and community involvement in education is necessary, including building relationships with teachers and participating in school decision-making and curriculum development.
- There should be greater access to education and health supports for students, such as access to nutrition programs, mental health programs, and reproductive health education.
- There is concern about funding not being equitable with other education systems off reserve and not meeting the unique needs of First Nations students. The need for sufficient, predictable and sustainable funding to meet students' education needs was also heard across regions.
- Transition plans and supports for students attending school off-reserve are needed. Participants commented that transition programs can help students get used to their new school by giving them information about their new surroundings:
- information on the area near the school
- public transportation
- where to get food
- where and how to access support programs
- Transition programs should also help students prepare to live off reserve and away from family.
- Having qualified teachers and staff is also important, as participants expressed that teachers should be well-qualified and trained to teach. Participants said that teachers need to be subject to more thorough evaluation, and they should be capable of meeting provincial teaching standards. Teacher training and ongoing professional development was identified as key to student success, including training in First Nation culture and history.
- Support for education beyond K-12, including early childhood and adult education was highlighted, to better support lifelong learning.
This is a broad summary of what we heard from community-level discussions, but it does not represent the perspective of every individual, community or region. The information shared with INAC by First Nation organizations following these discussions is being carefully considered in our next steps, and will help to inform the way forward on education transformation.
List of discussions funded by INAC
|First Nations/ First Nation organizations||Province|
|Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey||Nova Scotia|
|Millbrook First Nation||Nova Scotia|
|Mi'kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island||Prince Edward Island|
|First Nations Education Initiative Inc.||New Brunswick|
|Three Nations Education Group Inc.||New Brunswick|
|First Nations Education Council||Quebec|
|Nishnawbe Aski Nation||Ontario|
|Mohawk Council of Akwesasne||Ontario|
|Sandy Lake First Nation||Ontario|
|Chiefs of Ontario||Ontario|
|Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians||Ontario|
|Grand Council of Treaty #3||Ontario|
|Union of Ontario Indians||Ontario|
|Akwesasne Economic Development Agency / Independent First Nations||Ontario|
|Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Inc.||Manitoba|
|Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak||Manitoba|
|Onion Lake Cree Nation||Saskatchewan|
|Peter Balantyne Cree Nation||Saskatchewan|
|Prince Albert Grand Council||Saskatchewan|
|Agency Chiefs Tribal Council||Saskatchewan|
|Thunderchild First Nation||Saskatchewan|
|Yellowhead Tribal Development Foundation||Alberta|
|Athabasca Tribal Council||Alberta|
|Treaty 7 Management Corporation||Alberta|
|Western Cree Tribal Council||Alberta|
|North Peace Tribal Council||Alberta|
|Big Stone Cree Nation||Alberta|
|Lesser Slave Lake Regional Council||Alberta|
|Enoch Cree Nation||Alberta|
|Saddle Lake Band||Alberta|
|Tribal Chiefs Ventures Inc.||Alberta|
|KeeTasKeeNow Tribal Council||Alberta|
|Miyo Wahkohtowin Committee Education Authority/Maskwasis Education||Alberta|
|First Nations Education Steering Committee Society||British Columbia|
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