Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 62: Education for Reconciliation (62-65)

New legislation recognizes work of First Nations post-secondary institutes

April 9, 2024

NationTalk: VICTORIA – The work of First Nations to provide post-secondary education to their communities will be supported by ongoing funding provided under new legislation, reflecting the integral role of First Nations-mandated post-secondary institutes as a key pillar of B.C.’s post-secondary education system.

“This legislation and the funding it commits will support the critical work underway at First Nations-mandated institutes,” said sumaxatkʷ Tracey Kim Bonneau, chair of the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association. “Our institutes provide culturally safe and supportive post-secondary and adult education to their communities, including addressing the urgent need for language learning and revitalization. We look forward to working with the Province to jointly develop the policies and processes to implement this legislation.”

The Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) have worked together to develop new legislation that commits the Province to contribute ongoing operational funding and capacity funding for eligible institutes.

First Nations-mandated institutes play a vital role by providing First Nation learners with access to a safe and culturally relevant education rooted in their language and culture that supports successful experiences and outcomes.

“Supporting First Nations post-secondary education is a critical step in reconciliation,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills. “Our work with the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association on this new legislation commits to providing funding to support eligible institutes in British Columbia.”

Annual funding of $6.45 million has been allocated through the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan for eligible institutes.

The new legislation commits operational and capacity funding to support institutional priorities in the delivery of adult and post-secondary education. These priorities include growing First Nations’ capacity toward a skilled and diverse workforce, revitalizing their languages and cultures, and addressing the continuing impacts of colonialism and racism.

“This legislation recognizes First Nations-mandated institutes as integral to B.C.’s post-secondary system,” said Tyrone McNeil, president, First Nations Education Steering Committee. “We appreciate the stability this legislation will offer to our institutes as they grow to meet the needs of their communities. We look forward to the work ahead to implement the B.C. First Nations tripartite post-secondary education model in the spirit and intent of Article 14 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The new legislation addresses the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, specifically Article 14(1), and delivers on commitments in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act) Action Plan. Through continued consultation and collaboration, the Province will work with the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association to implement the new legislation.

“For years, the right to a post-secondary education was denied to First Nations learners,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Culturally appropriate opportunities did not exist. Through this new legislation, which addresses a key commitment in the Declaration Act Action Plan, the Province is helping First Nations-mandated institutes better prepare First Nations learners for a bright future in whatever field they choose.”

IAHLA represents more than 40 Indigenous adult and post-secondary educational institutes in British Columbia. Theses institutes offer a broad spectrum of courses and programs, including college and university programs leading to certificates and diplomas, adult basic education leading to the adult Dogwood diploma for secondary school completion, language instruction, and occupation specific training and upgrading.

FNESC works under the direction of First Nations in British Columbia to advance quality First Nations education. FNESC is accountable to all First Nations in B.C. and has a formal protocol with the First Nations Leadership Council that recognizes FNESC as the lead policy and advocacy body for First Nations education.

Learn More:

To learn more about IAHLA, visit:

To learn more about FNESC, visit:

To learn more about Declaration Act Action Plan, visit:

For more information about B.C. legislation, visit:


Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills
Media Relations
250 209-7629