Education (6-12): Current Problems

Systemic Racism

May 19, 2021


Access to Education for Inuit Youth

Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse – Considering the limited availability of residential care units for youth in Nunavik, Inuit youth must leave their communities to receive rehabilitation services. Two media articles reporting that Inuit youth could not speak their language in rehabilitation centers prompted the Commission to launch an investigation. The investigation initially concerned the right of Inuit youth to speak their language as well as the social services they receive while in the residential care of the CIUSSS-de-l’Ouest-de- l’Île-de-Montréal (CIUSSS-ODIM). However, the Commission soon realized that youth residing in these facilities were deprived of a formal education, as were youth residing in units under the governance of the Ungava Tulattavik Health Center in Dorval.

For this reason, the scope of the investigation was expanded to include their right to education. The investigation focused on the following areas:

  • The cultural safety of Inuit youth from Nunavik placed under the residential care of the CIUSSS-ODIM
  • The use of language
  • Cultural and social isolation: obstacles to exercising cultural rights
  • Rehabilitation services
  • Cultural competence and clinical tools
  • The right to rehabilitation services in their communities
  • Access to education in English of Inuit youth placed in residential care
    • Obstacles to access to education in English and lack of schooling
    • The limits of the legal framework
    • The cultural safety of Aboriginal students
    • Final considerations

The current investigation demonstrates a series of actions and omissions and institutional practices on the part of the different actors involved which led to the exclusion of Inuit children in residential care from the formal education system as well as a chronic violation of their right to education and to the full development of their human and cultural potential.

May 3, 2021


Alberta: Human Rights Strategy

The Alberta Human Rights Commission has released a “draft” Indigenous Human Rights Strategy to reduce systemic racism that Indigenous individuals and communities face in health, education, child welfare, housing, and justice (including policing and corrections) systems. Research, data, and information collected from consultations with key stakeholders indicate that systemic racism—in the health, education, child welfare, housing, and justice (including policing and corrections) systems—is a major issue facing Indigenous Peoples in Alberta. The overarching goals of this strategy are:

1. To help address and reduce systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in health, education, child welfare, housing, and justice (including policing and corrections) systems.
2. To work with communities throughout Alberta to address the racism and discrimination Indigenous people encounter in their day-to-day lives.
3. To build capacity and knowledge within and across the Commission to ensure we can serve Indigenous individuals and communities with respect. This must address the accessibility of our processes, relevance of our educational material, and our awareness of the lived experiences of Indigenous Peoples, in all their diversity.
4. To strengthen and expand Commission’s relationships with Indigenous communities and organizations.

January 25, 2023


Fewer than half of Indigenous students graduate on time from Edmonton public high schools

83 per cent of Alberta students finish high school in 3 years, provincial reports show

According to reports, 67 per cent of First Nations, Métis and Inuit students in Edmonton Catholic schools and 47 per cent of those in Edmonton public schools completed high school in three years. (Codie McLachlan)

CBC News: Indigenous students in Edmonton continue to have lower high school graduation rates than their non-Indigenous peers.

Annual education results reports, which include statistics from Alberta Education for 2021-22, show that more than 80 per cent of Edmonton public school and Catholic school students finish high school on time, but the completion rates are significantly lower for students who self-identify as First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI).

According to the reports, 67 per cent of FNMI students in Edmonton Catholic schools and 47 per cent of those in Edmonton public schools completed high school in three years. The province-wide three-year high school completion rate for FNMI students was 60 per cent. The three-year completion rates for FNMI students decreased slightly for both school divisions since the previous school year but they have been increasing over the longer term.

Edmonton Catholic Schools’ previous three-year high school completion average for FNMI students was 61 per cent while the EBSB’s was 45 per cent. 

Both districts’ reports warn that “caution should be used” when comparing high school completion rates over time since diploma exams were cancelled during the pandemic.

In their reports, the school districts outlined strategies for supporting Indigenous students, including working with families and communities, addressing calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and hiring more Indigenous staff. “We have a significant amount of work to do,” said EPSB Superintendent Darrel Robertson during a school board meeting on Tuesday afternoon.

Board chair Trisha Estabrooks acknowledged during the meeting that there was work to do, but she was encouraged by the rising percentage of FNMI students graduating high school within five years. 

EPSB’s five-year high school completion rate for FNMI students is 59 per cent.

Christine Meadows, a spokesperson for Edmonton Catholic Schools, said the the division approaches this issue in a holistic manner, connecting with students throughout their educational journey.  “We want our students to see themselves in school, be successful in school, feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging,” she said in an email.

She also said the division’s Braided Journeys program has won awards for its success in increasing high school completion among Indigenous students. The program started in a few high schools but has since expanded to support younger students too.

In the 2019-20 school year, EPSB started a high school completion coach pilot at Queen Elizabeth High School that has since been brought to two other schools. 

Ward G trustee Saadiq Sumar asked Robertson if the pilot could be expanded further to reach younger students. “I think there’s potential there, but we would have to proceed cautiously so we can afford what it is that we aspire to put in place,” Robertson said.

Systemic barriers

Christine Martineau, an assistant professor in the faculty of education at Concordia University of Edmonton, said learning coaches and cultural programs are important for Indigenous students but so is addressing the systemic barriers to their success. “For Indigenous students, systemic discrimination is at the root of non-completion and low academic performance,” she said.

Martineau, who is Cree and Métis and dropped out of high school but went on to earn a PhD in educational leadership, said schools were not built with Indigenous students in mind.

She said there are no simple answers to closing the graduation gap but school divisions could benefit from more immersion and bilingual programs for Indigenous languages. More Indigenous teachers and leaders, she said, could mean more role models for students to look up to.

“Keep the individual supports, like the graduation coaches and the Braided Journeys programs, but also look inward at where the systems need to change,” she said.


Madeleine Cummings


Madeleine Cummings is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. She covers local news for CBC Edmonton’s web, radio and TV platforms. You can reach her at

February 13, 2023

Governor General’s office closes social media comments after a wave of hateful remarks

Rideau Hall says comments have been ‘abusive, misogynistic and racist’ in nature

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon’s office posted a statement on Twitter stating that it would be closing comments on all of her social media accounts. (Kendall Latimer/CBC)gynistic and racist’ in nature

CBC News: The office of Canada’s Governor General says it is turning off comments on all of its social media accounts due to an influx of abusive comments and “violent threats.”

A statement was posted on the Governor General’s Twitter account Monday that outlined the decision. “In recent months we have witnessed an increase in abusive, misogynistic and racist engagement on social media and online platforms, including a greater number of violent threats,” the statement reads.

“As a result, we will be turning off comments on our social media platforms to ensure that all those who consult our information can do so in an environment that is respectful to all.

Gov. Gen. Mary Simon is the first Indigenous person to hold that position. She was appointed in 2021.

Rideau Hall told CBC in an emailed statement that the influx of comments have distressed Simon herself, her staff and those who engage with the Governor General’s social media. “These comments have been harmful on a personal level to the Governor General, harmful to the people that consult these platforms in search of information, and harmful to the mental health and well-being of our employees who work to manage these accounts daily,” the statement said.

A 2020 report by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, obtained by CBC News through an access to information request, reported that “political figures in Canada are facing threats of violence and online abuse with increasing regularity.”

October 18, 2022


How School Trustees Can Lead on Reconciliation

Some districts have worked to support Indigenous students’ success while others lag. School boards can make the difference.

Amy Parent (Noxs Ts’aawit), associate professor in the faculty of education at SFU, says that trustees control ‘assessment or oversight for Indigenous education’ and should be made more accountable. Photo via Simon Fraser University.

The Tyee: School board election campaigns across B.C. saw a lot of attention focused on gender and sexuality inclusion and “parents’ rights.” But some candidates made reconciliation a major part of their platforms, and now comes the test. As newly composed school boards take up their duties across the province, experts say trustees who care about Indigenous students’ success can be vital to help them succeed.

The B.C. Education Ministry has been working to implement calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

The province added Indigenous knowledge and perspectives to its curriculum in 2019, and starting in the 2023-24 school year, high school students will have to complete four credits in Indigenous-focused coursework to graduate.

But a lot of the tangible progress towards decolonizing education and uplifting Indigenous students happens at the school district level, and Indigenous education leaders say a lack of provincial direction has created an unbalanced landscape for learners.

District-level Indigenous student success is uneven

Each school district in the province has access to provincial resources — both funding and policy frameworks — to help it collaborate with local First Nations and other Indigenous community members. However, what they do with those resources is up to them.

School boards can get funding for “equity scans” that help administrators create strategies for supporting Indigenous students. Most districts have entered into some form of education enhancement agreement or local education agreement with nearby First Nations communities.

Boards of trustees also can, and often do, go beyond provincial programs to ensure schools have additional cultural and learning resources. Trustees can allocate extra funding towards professional development, cultural clubs and ceremonies, among other initiatives. However, it’s up to individual school districts to decide how much they want to prioritize building relationships with Indigenous communities and enhancing student education.

That’s created a lack of equity and accountability for school boards, says Amy Parent (Noxs Ts’aawit), an associate professor in Simon Fraser University’s faculty of education who was recently appointed the school’s Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Education and Governance.

Parent is Nisga’a from the Nass Valley of northwestern British Columbia on her mother’s side, and French and German on her father’s side. The province isn’t doing enough to hold boards accountable, she said. “I don’t see that there’s a huge level of accountability,” she said of the province. “Their solution to any type of assessment or oversight for Indigenous education, in my opinion, is minimal.”

Since the province started tracking student completion rates in 1998, Indigenous students have consistently underperformed compared to their non-Indigenous peers.  Completion rates measure the percentage of students who graduate from high school within six years of beginning Grade 8.

And while completion rates have improved for all students over the past two decades, the education system hasn’t been able to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners.

In 2021-22, six-year completion rates for Indigenous public school students ranged anywhere from 42 to 93 per cent across 56 districts, with an average completion rate of 72 per cent. In comparison, non-Indigenous student completion rates ranged from 76 to 100 per cent, with an average completion rate of 92 per cent.

Some districts have made a concerted effort to increase student success over the past decade. The Sea to Sky School District, for example, saw its six-year completion rates for Indigenous students grow from 56 per cent in 2010-11 to nearly 85 per cent a decade later. In New Westminster, the rates ballooned to 93 per cent from 62 per cent in the same time frame. 

Other districts, meanwhile, are still lagging — and Indigenous education stakeholders say a lot of the blame rests on elected school boards.

Some districts lagging, despite ongoing agreements

On Vancouver Island, the Greater Victoria School District oversees 48 schools, serves around 18,000 students and has a $268-million budget.  The district has historically struggled to meet Indigenous student needs.

Ellie Dion is the Songhees Nation’s education liaison, working with families and schools to support K-12 student success. She is Québécois and grew up in Wabanaki Territories. Her spouse is Lekwungen, Quw’utsun and Lummi, part of the Albany on Songhees with ties into the Williams and the Thomas.

Speaking in her capacity as a member of the Songhees Nation’s education services team, Dion says the community’s relationship with the district has seen its fair share of challenges. Specifically, she points to the implementation of the nation’s local education agreement, renewed in 2020, which she says isn’t progressing the way it should. 

The guiding principles of the agreement state the nation’s students will receive high quality education and feel safe and free from racism in schools. It also dictates the nation and school district will communicate frequently to share data and discuss policies.

Dion says the nation isn’t receiving as much information about students as it should, nor is it being consulted about important policy decisions. “We should have a better pulse of our students, we should be able to be more responsive,” she said. “Unfortunately, that’s not where we’re at with the implementation.”

Despite first signing a local education agreement with the Songhees Nation over two decades ago and ongoing collaboration with other local Indigenous communities, the Greater Victoria School District has some of the lowest six-year completion rates for Indigenous students in the province. Rates for Indigenous learners are at 60 per cent, and have only increased by 11 per cent since 2010-11.

Dion says Indigenous students in the region have diverse needs that aren’t being addressed by the current learning framework.

“There is systemic racism within the school district that reflects on graduation,” she explained. “We still have trouble around low expectations for students. They are still pushed through the system… without necessarily ensuring they have the literacy and numeracy skills.” Dion explains that through its local education agreement with the district, the nation pays for additional services for its youth. If the district is not meeting the terms of the education agreement, she says the nation’s money is being misused.

“We’re not just concerned parents. The Songhees Nation is a sovereign nation, and they want that sovereignty to be reflected in education.” Dion adds current trustees haven’t effectively involved Indigenous community partners in decisions, and she’s had concerns about their professional behaviour.

In May 2021, a district budget survey asked parents to choose which of three goals they thought needed the most investment: supporting all learners’ personal and academic success; supporting Indigenous learners’ personal and academic success; or supporting all learners’ physical and mental well-being.

That same month, a member of the district’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee resigned because he said a budget presentation suggested proposed cuts to music programs were due to a lack of Indigenous student participation. And by August, the board’s chair had stepped down — after being asked to do so by the Songhees Nation, Esquimalt Nation, Métis and urban Indigenous community — because of district missteps. 

Dion says she’s lost confidence in the current board and hasn’t seen the level of consultation she’d like on issues impacting Songhees students. Schools near the Songhees Nation desperately need seismic upgrades and recent population projections used to plan school growth didn’t take Indigenous housing realities into account.

“It could be an exciting time here to empower local nations to be a driving force in education. And we have yet to see that,” Dion said.

‘School trustees control the entire governance system’

SFU’s Parent says while some districts are showing progress, a lot of their success remains superficial.

In June, Parent acted as the principal investigator in a report commissioned by the Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows School District to explore how it could deepen Indigenous education and equity. Parent says even in a district like Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows — which has fairly high completion rates for Indigenous students and has made commitments to improving education and equity — massive gaps remain.

Some of the report’s recommendations include strengthening professional development for teachers, dramatically increasing communication with Indigenous stakeholders and giving local First Nations the choice to appoint representatives to the school board. Parent explains trustees are the main caretakers of district-wide initiatives concerning Indigenous student success. 

“School trustees control the entire governance system,” she said. “They drive the policy… they also target financial priorities and can [make] significant decisions in terms of impacts on Indigenous learners.” 

While Parent says she’s seen an increase in educators and trustees working hard to support reconciliation, a lot of the progress that’s been made so far is still surface-level. “The majority of Indigenous education in British Columbia and the way it’s carried out by school districts is still very tokenized,” she says.

Parent also takes issue with the metrics used to define success for students, including Indigenous students, saying a focus on numbers alone isn’t equitable. 

“Indigenous students are still being compared to non-Indigenous students and that’s an incredibly unfair comparison,” she said. “What we don’t see being measured is the impact of colonialism and the impact of ongoing systemic racism, and what that can do to Indigenous students and their families.”

‘What’s my role? How do I help?’

As an Indigenous educator and school trustee, John Chenoweth has observed the conversation about reconciliation in B.C.’s education system and says board members should have more than a basic understanding of what needs to be done.

Chenoweth is a member of the Upper Nicola Indian Band in the Nicola Valley and has been a school trustee in the Nicola-Similkameen School District since 2018. He’s also a member of the British Columbia School Trustees Association’s board of directors. 

“We’re probably beyond the infancy stage of really understanding, ‘What does TRC [the Truth and Reconciliation Commission] mean to me as a trustee?’” he said. “Trustees are becoming more and more versed in that, but of course, every four years, we’re going to have some new blood in the system with the elections.”

Asked how incoming trustees should go about building relationships with the Indigenous communities they serve, Chenoweth believes that asking and listening are key. “The one thing that we as a system must do is to ask the Indigenous community how we can support that community in rebuilding language, culture and what was lost through residential schools,” he explained. “We know identity only comes from the community. So what’s our role as a system to support that community to do what it needs to do?”

Many non-Indigenous people think it’s “not their place” to have discussions about language, culture and residential schools, he says. In reality, Chenoweth believes having those conversations and being visible goes a long way. “I work in a post-secondary system and some colleges will ask, ‘How do I make the relationship with our community?’ I’m like, ‘Do you have a car? Go visit’,” Chenoweth said. “Same thing with school districts. In my view, every educator, every person that works in a school… you had better be quite visible in the communities so that people know you.”

Chenoweth also reiterates the foundational role education plays, and has played, in the relationship between settler governance structures and First Nations. He says trustees are responsible for helping to deepen that relationship.

“[Former TRC chair and senator] Murray Sinclair said, ‘Education got us into this and education will get us out’,” Chenoweth said. “As trustees in this province, we do have a very, very strong responsibility to find balance in our system.”

“We need to run fearlessly into this and say, ‘What’s my role? How do I help? Give me a shovel, because I’m ready to go and dig at this.

October 4, 2022


Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare Calls for Action to Address Systemic Inequalities in Ontario Education System

NationTalk: Toronto, ON) Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare issued the following statement condemning recent actions of the Office of the Minister of Education that perpetuate systemic inequities in the Ontario education system:

“Recent actions by the Office of the Minister of Education do not support Ontario’s commitment to work with First Nations as partners on policies and programs. Further, these actions do not reflect the spirit and intentions of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada,” said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare.

“The Minister’s Office recently dismissed the thoughtful work of curriculum writers when Indigenous science and technology was struck from the curriculum for the 2022 school year. In addition, the Minister’s Office removed expectations that would have allowed students the opportunity to analyze contributions to science and technology from First Nations, Métis, and Inuit; Black and other racialized communities; women; people with disabilities; and 2SLGBTQIA+ communities. This expectation was rendered down to “analyze contributions to science and technology from various communities.” This deprives students of the opportunity to understand and celebrate the unique contributions of distinct communities that have been discriminated against, omitted, or misrepresented throughout history.

First Nation students attending school in the provincial education system continue to experience deep, ongoing marginalization and vulnerability associated with systemic inequities embedded in the system. We need a curriculum in schools that humanizes and elevates historically marginalized voices. Instead, we have witnessed paternalistic actions of the Office of the Minister of Education, which silence our voices in the new K-8 science and technology curriculum.

Ontario must commit to addressing the systemic gaps within the education system, beginning with a collaborative effort to improve the curriculum development and revision process. The ongoing disregard for First Nations identities, cultures, values, and ways of knowing has to stop. Our children and future generations deserve better!”

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare (Gwiingos)


The Chiefs of Ontario supports all First Nations in Ontario as they assert their sovereignty, jurisdiction and their chosen expression of nationhood. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram @ChiefsOfOntario.

Media inquiries, please contact:

Genna Benson
Communications and Public Affairs Manager
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Telephone: 416-523-4020

May 11, 2023

AB, BC, Fed. Govt., MB, NB, NL, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Opinion: To get Indigenous murder and suicide rates down, first face facts

Canadians need to agree on the hard fact of modern life that education is a prerequisite for economic success 

A teen sitting on a bench outside a school.
Without major improvement in First Nation education pedagogy and more support among First Nation leaders for formal education, median earnings and employment rates among First Nation families are unlikely to converge on non-Indigenous outcomes. 

NationTalk: Financial Post – From 2017 through 2021, 1.45 non-Indigenous Canadians in 100,000 died from homicide. Among Indigenous Canadians the rate was six times that: 8.88 in 100,000. That average masks a stark regional difference, however. In B.C., Ontario and Quebec, the Indigenous homicide rate is “only” three times the average for non-Indigenous Canadians. But in the Prairie provinces it is 10 times the non-Indigenous rate. Over the five years 2017-21 two-thirds of all Indigenous homicides took place in the Prairies.

Nationally, three quarters of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous homicide victims are men. The great majority — again, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous — have links to their murderer: a spouse, sibling, friend, or acquaintance. Strangers are a small minority of those perpetrating a homicide.

High homicide rates among Indigenous Canadians are both a tragedy and a stain on Canadian society. They are unlikely to decline, however, unless policymakers face up to several hard facts.

“Racism” is the catch-all explanation for most bad things happening in or to Indigenous communities. Accompanying the Statistics Canada release of the homicide numbers is an article seeking to explain them: “Both the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada indicated that persistent and deliberate human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses are the root cause behind Canada’s staggering rates of violence against Indigenous people.”

The article makes no mention of low employment as a second “root cause.” Yet in virtually all communities worldwide where employment is low social pathologies abound: depression, domestic family conflicts, alcohol and drug abuse. Associated murders and suicides even have a name: they have been labelled “deaths of despair.” It should come as no surprise, given the high rates of homicide among First Nations living in the Prairie provinces, that employment among First Nations people there is significantly lower than in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

A 2017 Parliamentary report on Indigenous suicide quoted many witnesses: “For instance, Joachim Bonnetrouge from the Deh Gah Got’ie First Nation noted that about half of his community is currently unemployed and that more opportunities would substantially benefit the community, ‘If you have a family and a father, and they could give him a job, holy man, you’d see that would make a big difference in anybody’s life.’”

No doubt federal and provincial governments could do more to increase on-reserve employment in infrastructure and natural resource projects across northern Canada. Decentralizing government offices to northern regions likely would also help. But in many isolated parts of the Canadian north and west good economic opportunities are, and likely always will be, inherently limited.

For many First Nation families, therefore, out-migration is a perfectly sensible choice. In fact, to reach Canadian-average levels of income and employment it may be the only choice. There are three main reasons people move: to be closer to family already in a city, to get a job, and to get better schooling for their children. In the 2001 census, 45 per cent of those who identified as First Nation lived on-reserve; in the 2021 census, only 30 per cent. That fact needs to be stressed: more than two-thirds of Indigenous Canadians now live off-reserve.

As would be expected, young adults with high school certification are more likely to “go to town” than those without. For First Nations, Métis, and non-Indigenous Canadians alike, the employment rates of those with high school certification are over 20 percentage points higher than of those without. (Métis employment rates in all provinces are similar to national non-Indigenous rates.)

Without major improvement in First Nation education pedagogy and more support among First Nation leaders for formal education, median earnings and employment rates among First Nation families are unlikely to converge on non-Indigenous outcomes. Not surprisingly, among First Nation young adults (ages 20-24) the share with at least high school certification is far below that of equivalent Métis and non-Indigenous cohorts — and is lowest in the Prairies.

The continuing critique of Indian reserve schools in the 19th century is entirely legitimate, but too often in this 21st century First Nation leaders express skepticism of formal education, and that has become a serious obstacle to improving Indigenous education outcomes — without which in the modern economy in which we all live Indigenous earnings and employment almost certainly will not improve.

Canadians need to agree on the hard fact of modern life that education is a prerequisite for economic success. Only then can we truly explain the tragedy of Prairie Indigenous homicides and suicides.

Author of the article:

John Richards is an emeritus professor at Simon Fraser University. His longer study on this subject was recently published by the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate Public Policy Program at University of Regina/University of Saskatchewan.

May 13, 2020


Premier Pallister ignores Métis and First Nations contribution to Manitoba History

Premier Pallister missed a golden opportunity to advance reconciliation by deliberately choosing to ignore the contribution of the Métis and First Nations peoples to the founding of Manitoba and its entry into the newly formed confederation of Canada. “Manitoba” derived from the Cree, Ojibwe or Assiniboine languages means “straits of Manitou, the Great Spirit”. (Canadian Encyclopedia). Louis Riel, the Métis leader, brought Manitoba into Canada in 1870. He also led the northwest rebellion after Canada reneged on land promises it made in return for Manitoba’s entry info confederation.

Sound familiar.

What better forum to advance reconciliation than the 150th anniversary of Manitoba’s entry into Confederation to celebrate the leadership of Louis Riel, the Métis leader and the First Nations who made up the original inhabitants of Manitoba. In a province where Indigenous people make up 18% of the population according to the 2016 census, Pallister could have taken the opportunity to celebrate Indigenous people. What a missed opportunity to change perceptions, combat negative stereotypes and use the opportunity to move reconciliation forward. Instead he has chosen to further entrench negative bias and white privilege in a province where according to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs:

  • 74% of incarcerated men are Indigenous
  • 82% of youth in custody are Indigenous
  • over 90% of children in the child welfare system are Indigenous
  • the highest rates of child poverty at 75 per cent;
  • highest rate of police-involved deaths of Indigenous people at 60 per cent; and
  • one of the highest rates of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls at more than 50 per cent

Prime Minister Trudeau on National Indigenous Day on June 21, 2020 acknowledged the contribution of Louis Riel and the Métis people in bringing the province of Manitoba into Confederation. He also took the opportunity to recommit his government to Reconciliation with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

January 31, 2023


Quebec Education Minister’s Priorities: Bernard Drainville must intervene to decolonize education laws that undermine First Nations autonomy

WENDAKE, QC, Jan. 31, 2023 – On the occasion of the return to Parliament, the First Nations Education Council (FNEC) Chiefs Committee reacted coldly to the seven priorities that will guide the Minister of Education, Bernard Drainville, during the current mandate.

“In his priorities, we would have liked to see Minister Drainville commit to integrating an eighth priority to eradicate once and for all every systemic barrier in the education system. Institutional barriers are detrimental to the educational success of First Nations students. To do so, the minister must decolonize certain laws and regulations, a step which is crucial to guaranteeing the educational success of students in those communities,” says Adrienne Jérôme, Chief of the Lac-Simon community and member of the FNEC Chiefs Committee.

However, measures intended to enact swift action to address education workforce issues and to provide backup for teachers bode well. A concrete example of one of the FNEC’s successful initiatives is the creation of the first Indigenous Peoples university centre of excellence, which aims to respond to training needs and establish a university teaching model specific to First Nations. Another includes the development and implementation of teacher assistant training for First Nations communities in Quebec.

The Minister of Education says he wants to make the network not only more effective, but also more efficient and more accountable by improving data collection and sharing. “It is, however, worrying that his department does not have a clear picture of its own network’s current situation other than partial data from English-language school service centres and school boards. The Ministry of Education clearly does not collect or have any data on First Nations students. Our organization has the expertise needed in this area and we invite the minister to consult with us,” says John Martin, Chief of the Gesgapegiag Community and member of the FNEC Chiefs Committee.

According to Denis Gros-Louis, Director General of the First Nations Education Council, “Weak collaboration on the development of Indigenous educational content in the new Culture and Citizenship in Quebec course and the adoption of Bill 14 are clearly the results of a lack of consideration of First Nations in educational matters.”About the FNEC Chiefs Committee

The Chiefs Committee is composed of volunteer chiefs who are part of the FNEC Extraordinary General Assembly. The committee advises the FNEC and leaders of the member communities on education policy issues. With support from the FNEC, it develops political strategy, represents the interests of all member communities and ensures that leaders are kept informed of progress and negotiations.About the FNEC

The FNEC is an organization that has been working for more than 35 years towards the recognition of the First Nations right to exercise full control over their education, equipped with the necessary resources that are designed and managed based on their values and cultures. For more information, visit the FNEC website at

For further information: Source: Francis Verreault-Paul, Government Relations and Communications Services Director, First Nations Education Council, 418-842-7672 #3001,