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10. Draft new Aboriginal education legislation

In progress - Projects proposed


So far there is no Indigenous education legislation being drafted. Regarding the principles it would include, however, there is some progress. Furthermore, in 2017/18, the federal government supported the creation of two First Nations school systems.

The Call to Action:

We call on the federal government to draft new Aboriginal education legislation with the full participation and informed consent of Aboriginal peoples. The new legislation would include a commitment to sufficient funding and would incorporate the following principles:

i. Providing sufficient funding to close identified educational achievement gaps within one generation.

ii. Improving education attainment levels and success rates.

iii. Developing culturally appropriate curricula.

iv. Protecting the right to Aboriginal languages, including the teaching of Aboriginal language as credit courses.

v. Enabling parental and community responsibility, control and accountability, similar to what parents enjoy in public school systems.

vi. Enabling parents to fully participate in the education of their children.

vii. Respecting and honouring Treaty relationships.


So far there is no Indigenous education legislation being drafted. Regarding the principles it would include, however, there is some progress.

In June 2021, the Yukon government announced the creation of a separate school board for First Nations, paving the way for schools geared specifically toward Indigenous students in the territory.

In May 2018, four central Alberta First Nations signed an education agreement with the federal government to create and run a Cree education authority.

In December 2017, a co-developed Memorandum of Understanding between the federal government and the Assembly of First Nations on K-12 education transformation was approved at a Special Chiefs Assembly, according to Indigenous Services Canada.

In October 2017, the Manitoba First Nations School System was created. The deal with 10 Manitoba First Nations communities was to include increased federal funding levels and run exclusively by First Nations leaders.

Regarding sufficient funding: In the 2016 federal budget, the Liberals committed to spending $2.6 billion in additional dollars over five years on kindergarten to Grade 12 education on reserve.

Included in that $2.6 million was $55 million per year to “support language and cultural programming in primary and secondary schools on-reserve,” according to the federal government.

But much of that funding — $801 million — was backloaded to 2020-2021.

A further 25 per cent of it was to be withheld to cover back expenses.

Regarding improving education attainment levels and success rates: in 2017, the federal government committed to increase funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program by $90 million over the course of two years. The extra funds were earmarked to “support the post-secondary education financial needs of over 4,600 students over the two years.”

But the funding increase was at least $10 million less than what was promised during their 2015 election campaign, where they promised “$50 million in additional annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.”

Regarding developing culturally appropriate curricula, protecting the right to Aboriginal languages and teaching aboriginal languages as credit courses, currently there are no national education standards. Curriculum is mandated by each province and territory.

In the 2017 federal budget, the Liberals committed $89.9 million over three years to “preserve, protect and revitalize Indigenous languages and culture.”

The 2019 federal budget promised to spend $334 million over five years on “preserving, promoting and revitalizing” Indigenous languages, broken down as follows:

  • 2019/2020: $15 million*
  • 2020/2021: $44 million
  • 2021/2022: $72 million
  • 2022/2023: $87 million
  • 2023/2024: $116 million

*This amount was in addition to funds already committed for language revitalization in the 2017 budget.

An Act respecting Indigenous languages was passed in 2019. It set up an Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages tasked with: planning “initiatives and activities” to restore and maintain fluency in Indigenous languages; creating technological tools, educational materials and permanent records of Indigenous languages, including audio and video recordings of fluent speakers; and funding immersion programs.