Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 8: Education (6-12)

Federal First Nations Education Statistics: 2018-2019

January 11, 2023
Student enrolment

In fiscal year 2018 to 2019, Government of Canada’s investments in kindergarten to grade 12 education supported about 107,200 First Nations students, ordinarily resident on reserve. Considering that a number of these students attended school part-time, such as many kindergarten students, 103, 523 full-time equivalent (FTE) students received support. 

Table 1 shows the distribution of these students by region. The number of students from communities under self-government agreements are not included in this table. Consult Enrolment to find out more. 

A distribution of these students by region is given in table 1 below.

First Nations K-12 education: Number of FTE students by type of school, 2018 to 2019

 British ColumbiaAlbertaSaskatchewanManitobaOntarioQuebecAtlanticAll provinces% of total
First Nation-operated schools4,81110,37816,09516,58412,3696,6831,62768,54666.20%
Provincial schools7,3396,41605,9455,0611,710031,45430.40%
Private and Independent schools6632582105343162,0442.00%
Federal schoolsN/A87N/AN/A1,392N/AN/A1,4791.40%
Total FTE students12,81317,13919,54522,73819,3558,7093,226103,523100%
Per student funding

ISC provided about $20,672 per FTE student in 2018 to 2019 for kindergarten to grade 12 education operating expenditures. 

This calculation does not include the additional $200 million in First Nations education infrastructure for capital projects, targeted projects and salary or administration expenses on reserve. 

Table 2 provides a breakdown of the FTE student enrolment by region, ISC kindergarten to grade 12 expenditures displayed as regional totals and regional per FTE student amounts. These per-student averages vary across the country. Any funding comparisons must consider the factors that influence per student funding levels in order to be meaningful. Consult per FTE student kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures to find out more. 

 British ColumbiaAlbertaSaskatchewanManitobaOntarioQuebecAtlanticAll provinces
Total kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures in $ millions$264.9 $354.4 $404.0 $469.9 $400.0 $180.0 $66.8 $2,140.00 
Total FTE students12,813 17,139 19,545 22,738 19,355 8,709 3,226 103,523 
Per FTE student elementary and secondary expenditures $20,674 $20,678 $20,670 $20,666 $20,667 $20,668 $20,707 $20,672 
Note: Figures may not add up due to rounding. FTE counts do not include students under self-government agreements.
Method of fundingDescriptionFunded program
Core fundingCore funding reflects the majority of investments and supports basic classroom and school operations including:paying education staff such as principals, teachers, administrators and other staffclassroom and school suppliesoperating and maintaining schoolsguidance and counsellingbussing and other services to studentspaying tuition feesIn general, regional offices allocate core funding to First Nations or organizations designated by First Nations that are responsible for managing and delivering education programs and services.

Funding levels are most often formula-based and respond to:the costs of operating schools based on student populationgeographic locationschool sizetuition rates for students attending provincial schools or private schools
Instructional servicesStudent support servicesBand support Funding and employee benefitsOperations and maintenance of education infrastructure
Proposal-based fundingProposal-based funding supports often time-limited projects where funding levels respond to proposals submitted by First Nations, tribal councils or regional First Nations educational service organizations.Education Partnerships Program
Targeted fundingTargeted funding supports very specific initiatives or needs. These investments have their own program terms and conditions and often include reporting requirements.High-Cost Special Education Program

The circle graph, bar graph and chart below provide more details about kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures for 2018 to 2019.

2018 to 2019 kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures for First Nations education, $2.14 billion 
Increases in funding
ISC kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures for fiscal year 2010 to 2011 to 2018 to 2019 

Financial data: All financial data are sourced from ISC’s Integrated Financial System. Amounts include expenses for teachers and staff at federally-operated schools and also reflect total expenditures transferred to First Nations and other partners for the purposes of supporting elementary and secondary education for eligible First Nations students ordinarily resident on reserve attending First Nations-operated, provincially-operated, private or independent and federally-operated schools. Figures include funding to support:

  • instructional services
  • student support services
  • New Paths for Education programming
  • First Nation Student Success Program
  • Education Partnerships Program
  • High-Cost Special Education Program
  • estimated amount of Employee Benefits and Band Support Funding for kindergarten to grade 12 education staff
  • operation and maintenance of education facilities

Enrolment: Student numbers are derived from the ISC Nominal Roll for the 2018 to 2019 school year. The Nominal Roll, a registry of the number of students residing on reserve who attend school on and off reserve, is collected annually by First Nations and sent to ISC’s regional offices. Figures for British Columbia include 29.5 FTEs and associated expenditures, residing and attending school in Northern BC but who are funded through the ISC regional office in Yukon.

Federal schools: There are 7 federally-operated schools serving First Nations in Canada. Of these, 5, JC Hill Senior Elementary School, Emily C. General School, Oliver Smith-Kawenni Io Elementary School, IL Thomas Odadrihonyani’ta’ School, and Jamieson Elementary School, serve the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, 1, Quinte Mohawk School, serves the Tyendinaga Mohawk in Ontario and 1, Legoff School, serves the Cold Lake First Nations in Alberta. Federal schools are located on reserve but are administered by the ISC regional offices in Ontario and Alberta, at the request of First Nations.

Per FTE student kindergarten to grade 12 operating expenditures: Calculations of per FTE student elementary or secondary expenditures are included for illustrative purposes only at a regional level. Calculations include those funds allocated for the maintenance of education facilities but not the construction or renovation of education facilities or funding for departmental administration and salaries with respect to education infrastructure. 

Per-student funding averages vary across the country and any funding comparisons must consider factors such as the type of school or organization, for example First Nation-operated schools, provincially-operated schools off reserve, federally-operated schools on reserve, private schools on or off reserves or First Nations education organizations, the student population and the geographic location of schools and students. All these factors influence funding levels.

The following education-related expenditures have been excluded from the per capita calculation:

  • funding provided under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and Northeastern Quebec Agreement and the Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey Education Agreement. The FTE students associated with the Education Agreements are also not included in the figures provided
  • FTE students or related education funding provided under comprehensive self-government arrangements
  • funding for post-secondary education
  • funding for First Nation and Inuit Cultural Education Centres and the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy as only a portion of these funds support elementary and secondary students
  • capital, targeted and salary or administration investments in First Nations education infrastructure, $165 million
  • ISC headquarters and ISC regional offices salaries and operations costs, with the exception of those going to support federal schools
  • funding provided to support education-related activities through the Professional and Institutional Development Program or tribal council funding

All data reflects the best and most recent available at the time of publication.