July 14, 2022
22 First Nations communities in Quebec and the Government of Canada sign historic $1.1 billion education agreement
Indigenous Services Canada: Today marks a major step forward in advancing First Nations control over First Nations education for almost 5,800 students in 22 communities in Quebec.
The Grand Chiefs and Chiefs of the First Nations Education Council (FNEC) and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services, gathered on the Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory to sign a historic regional education agreement. Kahsennénhawe Sky-Deer, Kahnawà:ke Grand Chief; John Martin, Chief of Gesgapegiag and Chief Responsible for Education; Ghislain Picard, Regional Chief, Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador; and Denis Gros-Louis, Director General of the FNEC, were also in attendance to celebrate the signing of this agreement.
This agreement between the FNEC, its 22 member communities and Indigenous Services Canada will provide an envelope of approximately $1.1 billion over five years for communities to implement education programs that will support the academic success of First Nations students. Through Indigenous Services Canada, $310.6 million in new funding was announced for this agreement in Budget 2022, and will complement approximately $790 million through existing education funding streams.
The result of 10 years of hard work, this agreement is based on a funding formula entirely designed by and for First Nations members of the FNEC. The agreement will ensure that the education needs of students, from kindergarten to Grade 12, are fully funded and based on community models, priorities, and realities. As a result, this agreement will allow for:
- A culturally appropriate curriculum
- Improved funding for school transportation
- Recruitment and retention of more than 600 teachers and specialized resources
- Improved student success
- Increased student retention and high school graduation rates
Canada remains committed to supporting and advancing the work of First Nations control over First Nations education, leading to better student outcomes and stronger communities. Today’s signing of this historic agreement with the First Nations Education Council, representing 22 communities in Quebec, is an example of the successes that can be achieved in partnership along the path of reconciliation.
“This is a major step forward for our people, and an honour to have signed this monumental agreement in Kahnawà:ke Mohawk Territory. This agreement will provide Kahnawà:ke with the funding and assistance required for the next five years to ensure our children and young adults get an education that embodies our roots, language, and culture.”
Kahnawà:ke Grand Chief
“Through the signing of this historic agreement with the First Nations Education Council today, First Nations children in Quebec will have better learning and education opportunities ahead of them. It is because of the determination of the First Nations Education Council and the 22 communities involved that this agreement could happen, and it will keep children connected to their language and culture through their schooling. This is what reconciliation looks like when we work together in partnership.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
“The [FNEC REA] is a significant step toward ascertaining First Nations control of First Nations education for the twenty-two First Nations members of the First Nations Education Council. The FNEC-REA offers predictable funding and stability to our communities thanks to a funding formula developed by First Nations and specifically to meet the needs of all our students in a culturally and linguistically relevant approach to Indigenous learning.”
Chief of Gesgapegiag and Chief Responsible for Education
“The signing of this agreement is the culmination of many years of work aiming to guarantee access to funding in order to meet our children’s needs, at last. This agreement will ensure that they receive the educational services they need and which respect their universal right to education.”
Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador
“The signing of the agreement is the completion, after more than 35 years, of the founding members’ vision. It clearly demonstrates the expertise and determination of education professionals from the 22 FNEC member communities. The climate of reconciliation in which the agreement was negotiated was based on the funding formula developed by the FNEC. This agreement reflects the potential for economic and cultural sustainability that our future graduates will bring to their community.”
Director General of the FNEC
- The First Nations Education Council (FNEC) is an association that is based on the collective strength of its 22 member communities in an effort to provide quality education to First Nations children in Quebec.
- The FNEC represents 24 elementary and secondary schools and approximately 5,800 students across eight First Nations in Quebec.
- The FNEC member communities are: Gesgapegiag, Gespeg, Kahnawà:ke, Kanesatake, Kebaowek First Nation, Kitcisakik, Kitigan Zibi, Lac Simon, Listuguj, Long Point First Nation, Manawan, Mashteuiatsh, Odanak, Opitciwan, Première Nation Abitibiwinni, Rapid Lake, Timiskaming First Nation, Wemotaci, Wendake, Wolastoqiyik Wahsipekuk, Wolf Lake First Nation and Wôlinak. Each member community has its own distinct cultural, demographic, socio-economic and linguistic profile.
- On May 4, 2021, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed to help frame discussions for the development of the current regional education agreement.
- The objectives of the regional education agreement are:
- Finalize school takeover by member communities
- Increase the number of qualified staff
- Increase staff retention
- Implement a culturally appropriate curriculum
- Increase student retention and high school graduation rate
- Increase teacher capacity for classroom technology integration
- Adequately fund school transportation
Improve student success
- The agreement is effective retroactively from April 1, 2022, until March 31, 2027. A renewal mechanism is in place to evaluate the performance of the agreement, beginning in 2027, to update the basis for its renewal.
- Budget 2022 allocated $310.6 million over five years, including $50 million from Budget 2021 resources, to implement this agreement. This is in addition to the current program funding underway, totalling approximately $1.1 billion over five years.
- Eight regional education agreements have been developed by the Government of Canada and First Nations partners to address the different needs and priorities of each community. These agreements represent approximately 22,000 students. Discussions are currently underway with other First Nations communities and education organizations to advance other education agreements across the country.
- This agreement continues the important work underway as the Government of Canada remains committed to working with First Nations to help close educational gap outcomes between First Nations and non-Indigenous Canadians. This approach aligns with Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and Calls to Action 7, 8 and 12 of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which call for the Government of Canada to provide quality education to First Nations while respecting the principle of First Nations control over First Nations education. This initiative also contributes to the Government’s response to the Calls for Justice 2.3 and 4.4 of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- FNEC – First Nations Education Council (cepn-fnec.ca)
- One step closer to an agreement on education transformation with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Indigenous Services Canada and the First Nations Education Council of Quebec
For more information, media may contact:
SEIZE03, Consultant for the First Nations Education Council
Director of Communications & Government Relations
First Nations Education Council
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Indigenous Services Canada
May 15, 2018
First Nations Control of Education
The work and progress in the area of education is guided by direction from Chiefs-in-Assembly and the long-standing goal of achieving First Nations control of First Nations Education. First Nations control of First Nations Education means respecting, protecting and enforcing First Nations inherent rights and Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction. It means First Nations education systems under First Nations control and based on First Nations design, supported by direct transfers from the federal government.
Helping to secure fair funding for First Nations children and students remains a key priority for the AFN. Federal funds for education were set aside in the 2016 federal budget. Earmarked for “Transforming First Nation Education,” approximately $665 million will be available soon to First Nations across the country to design their own regional funding agreements based on real needs. Based on direction from Chiefs-in-Assembly, the AFN Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) is working with the office of the Minister of Indigenous Services Canada on a Memorandum to Cabinet that will make these funds available to First Nations.
A Memorandum to Cabinet is a document used by a Minister to propose and explain a new measure or new initiative and to obtain cabinet approval. In this case, it is a necessary step to achieving policy and program change for federal education programming and funding. First Nations and the AFN have been advocating since 2001 for policy and program reform that provides core funding for education directly to First Nations governments, education organizations and schools. The intent of the Memorandum to Cabinet is not to develop federal legislation for First Nations education and the federal government will not delegate any education responsibilities or funding to any provincial or territorial government. Efforts toward the Memorandum to Cabinet are based on respecting, protecting and enforcing First Nations inherent rights and Treaty rights, title and jurisdiction. The goal is to allow for direct transfers to First Nations governments for First Nations education. Jurisdiction will remain with each First Nations Chief and Council.