Self government

Four BC First Nations reach education self-government agreements

SEABIRD ISLAND, BC, July 11, 2022 /CNW/ – At a celebration at Seabird Island today, four First Nations – the Cowichan Tribes, Lil’wat Nation, ʔaq’am and Seabird Island – were recognized and celebrated for reaching self-government agreements government regarding education on their land. Thanks to their school jurisdiction agreements signed with Canadathe four First Nations now have recognized legislative authority over their K-12 education systems, including authority over teacher certification, school certification, graduation requirements, curricula studies and course approvals.

The event is also a celebration of the creation of the First Nations Education Authority (FNEA), which will help participating First Nations build capacity to provide education on First Nations lands. The board of directors of the new FNEA will consist of two directors appointed by each of the participating First Nations.

This achievement is an important step towards realizing the right of First Nations to establish and control their education system and institutions, as affirmed by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and as recognized under section 35 of the Constitution Act 1982.

The Education Jurisdiction Agreements are historic agreements that lay the groundwork for the four participating First Nations to make decisions and pass laws in the best interests of their learners. This will help them exercise control over their education on their land instead of being subject to federal policy changes.

First Nations in British Columbia have been working collectively for more than two decades to advance First Nations control over education through the Education Skills Initiative. The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), a political and advocacy organization that represents and works on behalf of First Nations in British Columbia, has provided a wide range of support to First Nations claiming jurisdiction over education.


“The affirmation of our own governance in education has been a long journey. With the achievement of jurisdiction over education and our new legislative authority, we are fundamentally changing the system and taking an important step in asserting our rights as Indigenous peoples.
Stephanie Atleo
President of the First Nations Education Authority

“Education Competence aims to provide a culturally relevant and excellent education to ensure that our young people graduate with the knowledge, skills and credentials to thrive in all the opportunities they get. choose for higher learning, employment and life choices. I congratulate all the First Nations who have been involved in the educational jurisdictions process for their strength of vision and their perseverance.
Tyrone McNeilChair of the First Nations Education Steering Committee and Member of Seabird Island First Nation

“Recognition of jurisdiction over First Nations education will have lasting and significant benefits for young people in First Nations schools. I thank the four participating First Nations for their innovative work and look forward to working with the new First Nations Education Authority. .”
Aaron Burgess
President of the Association of First Nations Schools

“All First Nations learners deserve every opportunity to perform at their best. Through the Education Jurisdiction, we have worked in partnership with the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the Government of Canada formally recognize and support First Nations communities in educating and empowering their children and youth through the creation of their own community-led learning. This historic change in education will allow participating First Nations to certify teachers and schools, approve courses and set graduation requirements. »
The Honorable Jennifer Whiteside
Minister of Education and Childcare

“Today is a historic day for learners of British Columbia, and for the ʔaq̓am, Cowichan Tribes, Lil’wat Nation and Seabird Island communities. Control of Indigenous education, led by Indigenous peoples, is essential to ensure they have the tools they need to succeed and stay connected to their culture and language. Congratulations on this achievement in strengthening your identities, culture, languages ​​and heritage through the provision of culturally relevant primary and secondary education.”
The Honorable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“Signing these Education Skills Agreements will transform the way First Nations students learn, helping them achieve their goals and reach their full potential. The ?aq’am, the Cowichan Tribes, the Lil’wat Nation and Seabird Island and the First Nations Education Steering Committee are leading the way, and they have reached this place of self-determination through their unwavering vision. Congratulations to everyone involved!”
The Honorable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

Fast facts

  • In 1972, the First Nations of Canada endorsed the Indian Control of Indian Education Policy, promoting an educational approach based on parental responsibility and local control. This was updated in 2010 by the Assembly of First Nations in its Policy Statement on First Nations Control of First Nations Education. BC First Nations continue to strive for full control over First Nations education.
  • Indigenous peoples have the right to establish and control their educational system and institutions within the framework of their inherent rights to self-determination and self-government, as affirmed in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and also as recognized and affirmed under Article 35 of the Constitution Act 1982.
  • In 2006 FNESC, British Columbia and Canada signed the Education Jurisdiction Framework Agreement which recognizes the right of BC First Nations to establish and control their own education systems. Canada passed a law in 2006, and British Columbia did the same in 2007, codifying this recognition and paving the way for First Nations to assume jurisdiction.
  • The Education Jurisdiction Initiative is designed to support the exercise of self-government in education by First Nations through enabling legislation and a series of tripartite and bilateral agreements, including the Tripartite Framework Agreement on Education Jurisdiction, standard agreements to be signed by Canada and Participating First Nations, and other agreements between British Columbia and FNEA, FNESC and Participating First Nations.
  • A Participating First Nation (PNP) is a First Nation that has jurisdiction over its education system, which includes the power to:
    • Make educational laws for education within its territory through its chief and council
    • Establish a governance structure either through its chief and council or another governmental authority they establish (e.g. community school authority)
  • In 2021, British Columbia passed legislation to enable cooperation and assistance between the Ministry of Education and Childcare and the FNEA on the regulation of teachers. The agreements are expected to be finalized this summer.
  • The FNEA, created July 1, 2022, will help participating First Nations develop the capacity to provide education on First Nations lands. The FNEA will exercise the powers delegated by the NFPs in the following areas:
    • teacher certificate
    • School certificate
    • Graduation Requirements and Course Approval

Related links
First Nations Education Steering Committee
First Nations Schools Association
Government of Canada

SOURCE First Nations Education Steering Committee

For further information: Jennifer White, Manager, Communications and Events, First Nations Education Steering Committee, Cell: 250-240-2157, Email: [email protected]; Ministry of Education and Child Care, Government Communications and Public Engagement, Province of British Columbia, Phone: 250-356-5963; Renelle Arsenault, Director of Communications, Office of the Honorable Marc Miller, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Email: [email protected]; CIRNAC Media Relations: Email: [email protected]Phone: 819-934-2302

Teresa R. Cabrera

The author Teresa R. Cabrera