Education

Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 6 to 12.

Based on data provided August 2021.

6. We call upon the Government of Canada to repeal Section 43 of the Criminal Code of Canada.

What's happening?

The Government of Canada continues to support parenting education, including the development of publications that discourages physical punishment and physical discipline of children and provides parents with positive parenting skills. The Department of Justice Canada recently updated Criminal Law and Managing Children's Behaviour to explain the law and clarify that corporal punishment is not permitted in schools. It also indicates that many forms of physical punishment of children are not consistent with the guidelines set out by the Supreme Court of Canada in its 2004 decision on section 43 of the Criminal Code (Canadian Foundation for Children, Youth and the Law v. Canada (Attorney General)) and are considered crimes in Canada.

The revised content also includes links to several resources providing more information about the laws in Canada and parenting, such as those published in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Next steps

The Government of Canada continues to explore how best to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action 6 to repeal section 43 of the Criminal Code.

7. We call upon the federal government to develop with Aboriginal groups a joint strategy to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

What's happening?

The Government of Canada has taken steps to close the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous at all stages of the education system, from kindergarten through to post-secondary education. Investments in pre-school, head start, early learning and child care are also important in ensuring that children arrive at school ready to learn.

Between 2016 and 2018, Indigenous Services Canada worked closely with First Nations to fundamentally transform funding for First Nations K to 12 schools on reserve.

On April 1, 2019, the new funding approach was launched so that students in First Nations K to 12 schools are supported by funding that is comparable to funding in provincial education systems, including support to First Nations children aged 4 and 5 through full-time kindergarten.

The Government of Canada is also investing in language and cultural programming to ensure Indigenous students receive both a high quality and culturally appropriate education that responds to their needs.

Indigenous Services Canada also supports a number of strategies to provide financial assistance to eligible Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary education. Budget 2019 invested $327.5 million over 5 years to enhance the First Nation Post-Secondary Student Support Program.

Pursuant to a comprehensive review of federal supports for Indigenous post-secondary education announced in 2019, the Government of Canada committed to work with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Métis National Council to develop distinctions-based strategies to advance post-secondary education. These strategies would incorporate student support, understanding of local needs and community-based programs and services to holistically support Indigenous students to attain a post-secondary credential.

As a result, beginning in 2019 to 2020, the government invested $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8 million ongoing for a new Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy. Canada also invested $362 million over 10 years and $40 million ongoing for a new Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategy. Both distinctions-based programs came into effect on April 1, 2020.

Through the proposal based Education Partnerships Program, First Nations and mandated First Nation organizations are supported in their endeavours to develop new approaches to education programming. First Nations and mandated First Nations organizations can strengthen their internal capacity as they develop an education system or conduct a service mapping exercise that reflects their needs and priorities. The program can also assist in establishing longstanding partnerships that can benefit First Nations students as they transition to provincial schools.

In June 2019, the Minister of Indigenous Services signed the Post-Secondary Education Sub-Accord with the President of the Métis National Council. This sub-accord built on an October 2018 Memorandum of Understanding and seeks to contribute to closing the post-secondary educational gaps between Métis Nation citizens and non-Indigenous Canadians through the delivery of effective post-secondary education supports and initiatives.

To support Indigenous students during the unprecedented time of COVID-19, on April 22, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a one-time increase of $75.2 million in 2020 to 2021 to the existing support for First Nations, Inuit and Métis post-secondary students, to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic. A one-time investment of $25.9 million in 2020 to 2021 was also announced on October 30, 2020, to help alleviate the immediate pressures facing Indigenous post-secondary institutions as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, on August 26, 2020, $112 million was announced to support a safe return for elementary and secondary students to First Nations schools on reserve for 2020 to 2021. Budget 2021 extended this COVID-19 funding for the 2021 to 2022 school year, details can be found under recent budget investments below.

Recent budget investments

Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada continues to take steps to close the education gap between First Nations peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians, including proposing to invest, starting in 2021 to 2022:

  • $726 million over 5 years and $188 million ongoing, to enhance funding formulas for elementary and secondary education in critical areas such as:
    • student transportation
    • ensuring funding for First Nations schools remains predictable from year to year
    • increase First Nations control over First Nations education by concluding more regional education agreements
  • $515 million over 5 years and $112 million ongoing, to support before and after-school programming for First Nations children on reserve which was announced as part of the Canada-wide child care strategy
  • $350 million over 5 years to expand access to adult education by supporting First Nations people on reserve to complete their high school education

The Government of Canada continues to support access to education for Indigenous students during recovery from the pandemic. In addition to the one-time increase of $75.2 million announced on April 22, 2020, Budget 2021 announced $150.6 million over 2 years ($75 million per year), starting in 2021 to 2022, to support Indigenous students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the Inuit and Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategies.

Many students are facing financial hardship during the pandemic, as young people have suffered some of the worst job losses. This support would help offset lost income that many Indigenous students rely on to pay for tuition, books, housing and other living expenses.

Likewise, building on funding announced in August 2020 for the school year 2020 to 2021, Budget 2021 also announced another one-time investment of $26.4 million for 2021 to 2022 to help alleviate the immediate pressures facing Indigenous post-secondary institutions, as well as $112 million in 2021 to 2022 to extend COVID-19 support so that school-aged children on reserve can continue to attend school safely, including:

  • personal protective equipment for students and staff
  • laptops to support online learning
  • more teachers and other critical staff

These Budget 2021 announcements build on previous investments in Budget 2016 and the new co-developed provincially comparable funding approach launched in 2019, plus additional support for language and cultural programming ($1,500 per student, per year) and kindergarten for First Nations children aged 4 and 5 at First Nations schools.

On March 31, 2021, $1.23 billion in targeted funds had been invested to support 203 school facility projects, with 133 completed to date. This will result in the construction of 66 new schools, 27 of which are completed to date and the renovation and upgrades of 86 existing schools, 71 of which are complete. This will benefit approximately 35,000 students.

Recent progress

First Nations children are being better supported through the new funding approach for kindergarten to grade 12 schools on-reserve, with a 52.1% national funding increase (2015 to 2016 as compared to 2020 to 2021).

Investments include $1,500 per student for First Nations language and culture programming on-reserve and full-time kindergarten on-reserve schools for a total of 315 First Nations operated programs offering grade 4 and 329 programs offering grade 5 in 2019 to 2020.

The government also made significant investments in education infrastructure. As of September 30, 2020, $1.06 billion in targeted funds had been invested to support 196 school-related infrastructure projects benefiting 247 First Nations.

Through the new funding approach, the Government of Canada and First Nations partners are developing regional education agreements that respond to the different needs and priorities of First Nations communities. This aligns with the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education, since First Nations are best placed to make decisions on their priorities or where they see the greatest need.

Agreements such as the Athabasca Denesuline Education Authority Agreement are a clear demonstration of First Nations control of First Nations education. The agreement enables the education governing body to establish standardized education programming across the First Nations schools that focuses on the specific needs of their region.

As of February 2022, Indigenous Services Canada completed 8 regional education agreements with First Nations partners under the Education Transformation policy. Discussions are also underway with over 60 other First Nations partners to advance education agreements across the country (in Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic).

Next steps

There continues to be expressed interest from First Nations or First Nations education organizations to develop and renew regional education agreements with Indigenous Services Canada, and the federal government will continue to advance work on this front.

Indigenous Services Canada will also be working to implement the Budget 2021 funding announcements for on-reserve education and before and after-school programming on reserve, as well as announcements related to COVID-19 supports for Indigenous students and schools.

Employment

What's happening?

The Government of Canada is also taking meaningful steps towards ensuring better employment outcomes for Indigenous youth. Indigenous Services Canada has been a partner department in the delivery of Employment and Social Development Canada's Youth Employment Strategy since 1997 through the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy.

The First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy supports initiatives to provide First Nations and Inuit students and youth (aged 15 to 30) with work experience, information about career options and opportunities to develop skills to help gain employment and develop careers. Indigenous Services Canada delivers 2 programs under the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy: the First Nations and Inuit Summer Work Experience Program for students and the First Nations and Inuit Skills Link Program.

The First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy programming is supported by an annual base budget of $27.1 million. Budget 2016 invested an additional $38.2 million in the skills link stream for 1 year (2016 to 2017) and Budget 2017 invested an additional $100.9 million in both streams over 3 years (2017 to 2018 to 2019 to 2020).

In 2016 to 2017, 12,647 youth were served by the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy program. On April 22, 2020, the Prime Minister announced an allocation of additional emergency-related funding to support post-secondary students. Through this announcement, $153.7 million was allocated for a 1-year top-up to the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, which included $30.6 million for Indigenous Services Canada to implement through the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy. The 2020 Fall Economic Statement also committed $80 million in funding for 2021 to 2022 for the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy.

In addition, Employment and Social Development Canada's Indigenous labour market programming plays a key role to support the growth of Indigenous communities and foster lifelong learning, skills development and training. Federal support for Indigenous labour market programming has a long history, starting with the Pathways to Success program in 1991 to 1996 to the current Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) program, launched in 2019.

The ISET program is a co-developed, distinctions-based labour market program designed to support First Nations, Inuit, Métis, urban and non-affiliated Indigenous peoples to improve their skills and work towards their long-term career goals.

The program funds a network of more than 110 Indigenous service delivery organizations with more than 650 points of service to provide Indigenous peoples with training and supports to improve their skills and secure employment.

As announced in the 2018 Budget, an investment of $2 billion over 5 years in the ISET program and $408.2 million per year thereafter will contribute to a reduction in the employment and skills gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

The program supports a holistic approach to service delivery that encompasses a wide range of labour market activities including locally designed programs in support of each distinctions-based labour market strategy. Indigenous service delivery organizations may provide:

  • employment-related and career development assistance
  • wrap-around services such as living expenses
  • financial assistance to support individuals in getting skills for employment
  • tuition or living expense costs
  • business coaching and mentorship
  • disability-related supports

The 2020 Fall Economic Statement announced a $144.2 million one-year investment for the ISET program in 2021 to 2022 to support COVID-19 recovery efforts by increasing training and supports for clients facing the most barriers. The additional investments under the ISET program will enable Indigenous organizations to focus programming on client needs, providing the wrap-around supports and expanded activities to improve the outcomes of Indigenous youth, persons with disabilities and out of territory or urban clients in post-pandemic recovery. From this envelope, $35.3 million in funding will directly support Indigenous youth.

Complementing the foundational supports provided through the highly successful ISET program, the Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF) is a project-based program that funds partnerships between Indigenous organizations and industry employers to provide skills training for Indigenous peoples linked to economic opportunities at the local, regional and national level.

By increasing access to training that is demand-driven, the SPF plays a key role in directly linking Indigenous peoples to specific jobs and improving their employment outcomes. SPF has the flexibility to adjust to government priorities and address emerging economic opportunities.

SPF aims to reduce the skills and employment gaps that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and increase Indigenous participation in the labour market by ensuring Indigenous participants have improved skills and employment opportunities.

With an ongoing investment of $50 million per year, SPF focuses on training Indigenous peoples for industry-identified, specific jobs that align with emerging labour market needs and government priorities.

Recent budget investments

Budget 2021 announced $109.3 million for 2022 to 2023 for the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy to better meet the needs of vulnerable youth facing multiple barriers to employment, from which $28.8 million was allocated to Indigenous Services Canada to implement through the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy.

Recent progress

In 2016 and 2017, Employment and Social Development Canada engaged with key Indigenous partners and organizations across the country to review and renew the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. Following this engagement, Employment and Social Development Canada and Indigenous partners co-developed the implementation of the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program.

The program built upon the success of the previous Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, introducing several engagement identified enhancements. These include:

  • the distinctions-based framework
  • greater stability of funding with 10-year agreements
  • improved flexibility
  • reduced administrative burden
  • strengthened supports for information gathering
  • stronger links to other programs

Indigenous service delivery organizations, some of which have been in place for over 20 years, continue to ensure that communities have access to skills and employment training designed and delivered by Indigenous-led organizations.

In January 2021, Employment and Social Development Canada launched a national engagement process gathering input from Indigenous partners, industry, educational institutions, provincial and territorial governments and other federal departments to inform the development of a future policy approach for the Skills and Partnership Fund.

This engagement will inform how the fund can advance federal priorities, support Indigenous peoples to engage in both economic and community opportunities, particularly in the context of COVID-19 economic recovery.

The modernizing of this fund looks to effectively target emerging and priority sectors and explore opportunities with Indigenous industry partnerships aligned to overarching Indigenous community and government priorities and be more responsive to an evolving labour market context.

Following the completion of this engagement, a "What We Learned" summary report will be developed and shared publically. A new approach for future Skills and Partnership Fund investments will be communicated early in the new calendar year

As of November 2020, 487 through First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy recipients, including band councils, Indigenous organizations and colleges received the COVID-19 top-up funding for the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy, which was expected to reach approximately 3,000 youth by March 31, 2021.

Budget 2021 also announced an additional $618.4 million over 2 years for the Income Assistance program, starting in 2021 to 2022. This funding will be used to continue to address basic needs and increased program demand, including as a result of COVID-19, as well as to continue providing case management and support to help people transition to employment or education.

Next Steps

Indigenous Services Canada will be working to implement Budget 2021 allocation for the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy.

The Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People outlined the work the federal government will take toward ensuring Indigenous women and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people are represented and included in the public service workforce, including in senior positions, through targeted efforts such as amending the Public Service Employment Act to affirm the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce and avoid biases and barriers in hiring.

The Government of Canada will explore options to support Indigenous governments and organizations in their rematriation efforts, including supporting them in their efforts to increase the representation of women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people in their leadership.

Federal efforts will focus on increasing education, training and economic opportunities for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

Through initiatives such as the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, which includes the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy, the Indigenous Skills and Employment Training program, the Women's Employment Readiness Pilot and the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, the Government of Canada will enhance and expand support for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

The Federal Pathway to address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people, released in June 2021, also affirms that measures to address socio-economic barriers to education, training and employment are a Government of Canada priority.

This will contribute to:

  • enhancing access to child care
  • information about career options
  • the opportunity to develop skills
  • participating in the economy
  • overcoming the multiple barriers to employment

Notably, through these initiatives, women entrepreneurs will have greater access to financing, mentorship and training.

The Government of Canada also commits to enhancing federal initiatives to support Indigenous service providers, Indigenous entrepreneurs, Indigenous businesses and commercial entities.

Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities program

What's happening?

In addition to the sport-specific calls to action, Sport Canada delivers the Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities program that aims to achieve 4 intended outcomes in partnership with Indigenous peoples:

  • improved health
  • improved educational outcomes
  • reduction of at-risk behaviours
  • improved employability
Recent budget investments

The Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities program was launched through Budget 2018 as a component of the Sport Support Program with an ongoing investment of $9.5 million per year. Projects began in spring 2019.

The Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities program is delivered in 2 streams:

  • stream 1 provides annual funding (up to $5.3 million) to the 13 Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies and the Aboriginal Sport Circle for sport for social development projects in Indigenous communities in each of the provinces and territories
  • stream 2 provides funding (up to $3.6 million) to Indigenous governments, communities and organizations, including delivery organizations working in collaboration with Indigenous communities
Recent progress

The Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities program is in high demand, supporting its value to Indigenous communities and contribution to achieving the calls to action.

For the 2019 to 2021 program period, 225 communities benefitted from Sport for Social Development on Indigenous Communities projects including those supported through funding to the 13 Provincial/Territorial Aboriginal Sport Bodies.

A few examples of projects:

  • a community-based wellness organization with locations in Nunavik (northern Quebec) and Nunavut has modified its delivery approach due to COVID-19 and offers practical front-line intervention and prevention programs that include stress resilience tools as a complementary toolkit for school retention, violence prevention, suicide prevention and healthy mental health development strategies for youth and community including:
    • a training plan and logistics delivery plan for 3 communities (Pov, Kangirsuk and Montreal) and trained local community leaders
    • workshops and school sessions in Pov, Kangirsuk and Montreal. There were 66 activities, 156 youth and 226 adults impacted
    • workshops for regional members in Salluit during the Putautiit Healing Conference as well as sessions in Pov. There were 112 activities, 428 youth and 162 adults impacted
    • workshops at the Dialogue for Life Conference in Montreal and online specialized trainings, school sessions in Kangirsuk. There were 60 activities, 110 youth and 77 adults impacted
    • online workshops during COVID-19 lockdown for teachers and wellness staff. There were 153 participants from Nunavik and Nunavut in 6 workshops
    • live online workshops on the foundations of dynamic mindfulness teacher training, preventing burn-out, vicarious trauma and transforming trauma. 22 teachers and organizational staff from Nunavik and Nunavut participated in 5 customized workshops
  • In British Columbia:
    • 353 youth development camps were delivered across the province involving 16,640 participants
    • HealthBeat pre screenings were accomplished, successfully reaching 150 participants from 6 communities, and referring participants as needed for follow-up (12% for high blood pressure, 3% for high blood sugar and 29% for high cholesterol)
    • FitNation programs were delivered throughout the province benefitting 308 participants
    • Warriors of Wellness challenge was delivered in 11 First Nations schools totaling 191 participants throughout the province
    • 66 communities received equipment grants
Next steps

On September 14, 2020, the Government of Canada launched the second intake of applications for the Sport for Social Development in Indigenous Communities program component. This intake will provide funding for activities in the 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023 fiscal years.

Sport Canada received 193 Stream 2 applications. Stream 2 applicant recommendations are currently being processed and decisions are expected in spring 2021.

8. We call upon the federal government to eliminate the discrepancy in federal education funding for First Nations children being educated on reserves and those First Nations children being educated off reserves.

What's happening?

Starting in 2019 to 2020, students in First Nations schools have been supported by predictable base funding that is comparable to funding in provincial education systems, plus additional investments in language and culture programming and for kindergarten for children age 4 and 5 in First Nations schools.

Between 2016 and 2018, the Government of Canada worked closely with various First Nations partners to develop and implement an inclusive and comprehensive engagement process on First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 education on-reserve and invested $3.6 million to support community-level discussions. The engagements were led by First Nations organizations and provided community members with the opportunity to share their views on how to improve First Nations student success. As a result, Indigenous Services Canada and First Nations partners co-developed a new policy framework for First Nations elementary and secondary education funding that came into effect on April 1, 2019, that:

  • replaced outdated proposal-based programs with improved access to predictable core funding
  • provided base funding that is comparable to provincial systems across the country
  • provided First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 schools with $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture programming
  • provided new resources that support full-time kindergarten in First Nations schools for children aged 4 and 5
  • made special education funding more predictable, with fewer application-based requirements

To support Indigenous students during the unprecedented time of COVID-19, on August 26, 2020, $112 million was announced to support a safe return for elementary and secondary students to First Nations schools on reserve for 2020 to 2021.

Recent budget investments

Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada continues to take steps to better address the needs of First Nations students being educated on reserve, including investing, starting in 2021 to 2022:

  • $726 million over 5 years and $188 million ongoing, to enhance funding formulas for elementary and secondary education in critical areas such as:
    • student transportation
    • ensuring funding for First Nations schools remains predictable from year to year
    • increasing First Nations control over First Nations education by concluding more regional education agreements
  • $515 million over 5 years and $112 million ongoing, to support before and after-school programming for First Nations children on reserve which was announced as part of the Canada-wide child care strategy

The Government of Canada also continues to support access to education for Indigenous students during recovery from the pandemic. Building on funding provided for the 2020 to 2021 school year, Budget 2021 announced $112 million in 2021 to 2022 to extend COVID-19 support so that school-aged children on reserve can continue to attend school safely, including personal protective equipment for students and staff, laptops to support online learning, more teachers and other critical staff.

Recent progress

First Nations children are being better supported and provided with provincially comparable funding through the new funding approach for kindergarten to grade 12 schools on reserve, with a 52.1% national funding increase (2015 to 2016 as compared to 2020 to 2021).

Investments include $1,500 per student for First Nations language and culture programming on reserve and full-time kindergarten on-reserve schools for a total of 315 First Nations operated programs offering a kindergarten program for 4 years old children and 329 programs offering a kindergarten program for 5 years old children in 2019 to 2020.

Through the new funding approach, the Government of Canada and First Nations partners are developing regional education agreements that respond to the different needs and priorities of First Nations communities. This aligns with the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education, since First Nations are best placed to make decisions on their priorities or where they see the greatest need.

As of February 2022, Indigenous Services Canada had completed 8 regional education agreements with First Nations partners under the Education Transformation policy.

The Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, released June 2021, affirms the federal government will continue to work toward removing barriers to education, training and employment through the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education strategies.

Support will also be provided to ensure children on reserve can continue to attend school safely during the pandemic and to improve and expand access to First Nations education on reserve, including for adult learners.

Next steps

There continues to be expressed interest from First Nations or mandated First Nations education organizations to develop and renew regional education agreements with Indigenous Services Canada and the Government of Canada that will continue to advance work focused on targeted and localized control over their own education.

Indigenous Services Canada will be working to implement the Budget 2021 announcements related to COVID-19 supports for Indigenous students and schools, as well as funding for on-reserve education and before and after school programming.

9. We call upon the federal government to prepare and publish annual reports comparing funding for the education of First Nations children on and off reserves, as well as educational and income attainments of Aboriginal peoples in Canada compared with non-Aboriginal people.

What's happening?

Indigenous Services Canada is continuing to review and update public reporting on education funding, including to better implement this call to action. The most recent public report is from the 2016 to 2017 school year. Indigenous Services Canada will be publishing updated information regarding education funding in the coming months.

To consult the most recent report, visit:

Recent progress

An overview of expenditures between the 2017 to 2018 and 2019 to 2020 can be found within the 2019 to 2020 Departmental Results Report, details on transfer payment programs of $5 million or more:

10. 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:

  1. Providing sufficient funding to close identified educational achievement gaps within one generation.
  2. Improving education attainment levels and success rates.
  3. Developing culturally appropriate curricula.
  4. Protecting the right to Aboriginal languages, including the teaching of Aboriginal languages as credit courses.
  5. Enabling parental and community responsibility, control, and accountability, similar to what parents enjoy in public school systems.
  6. Enabling parents to fully participate in the education of their children.
  7. Respecting and honouring Treaty relationships.

What's happening?

Between 2016 and 2018, the Government of Canada worked closely with First Nations partners to develop and implement an inclusive and comprehensive engagement process on First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 education on-reserve and invested $3.6 million to support community-level discussions.

These engagements were led by First Nations organizations and provided community members with the opportunity to share their views on how to improve First Nations student success. As a result, Indigenous Services Canada and First Nations partners co-developed a new framework for First Nations elementary and secondary education funding which represented a 52.1% national funding increase (2015 to 16 as compared to 2020 to 2021) that came into effect on April 1, 2019, that:

  • replaced outdated programs based on proposal submissions with improved access to predictable core funding
  • provided base funding that is comparable to provincial systems across the country
  • provided First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 schools with $1,500 per student, per year, to support language and culture programming
  • provided new resources that support full-time kindergarten in First Nations schools for children aged 4 and 5
  • made special education funding more predictable, with fewer application-based requirements

Recent budget investments

Through Budget 2021, the Government of Canada continues to support the new policy framework for First Nations elementary and secondary education funding. To support this framework, $726 million over 5 years, starting in 2021 to 2022, and $181.8 million ongoing, was announced to:

  • enhance the current funding approach for elementary and secondary education in critical areas such as student transportation
  • ensure funding for First Nations schools remains predictable from year to year
  • increase First Nations control over First Nations education by concluding more regional education agreements

The Government of Canada continues to support access to education for Indigenous students during recovery from the pandemic. In addition to the one-time increase of $75.2 million for 2020 to 2021 announced on April 22, 2020, Budget 2021 announced $150.6 million over 2 years ($75 million per year), starting in 2021 to 2022, to support Indigenous students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the Inuit and Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education strategies.

Many students are facing financial difficulty during the pandemic, as young people have suffered some of the worst job losses. This support would help offset lost income that many Indigenous students rely on to pay for tuition, books, housing and other living expenses.

Building on funding announced in August 2020 for 2020 to 2021, Budget 2021 also announced another one-time investment of $26.4 million for 2021 to 2022 to help alleviate the ongoing pressures facing Indigenous post-secondary institutions, notably in adapting to COVID-19 guidelines and changing technology needs.

Recent progress

Through the new co-developed funding approach, the Government of Canada and First Nations partners are developing regional education agreements that respond to the different needs and priorities of First Nations communities. This aligns with the principle of First Nations control of First Nations education, since First Nations are best placed to make decisions on their priorities or where they see the greatest need. As of February 2021, Indigenous Services Canada has completed 7 education agreements with First Nations partners under the Education Transformation policy.

Next steps

There continues to be expressed interest from First Nations or First Nations education organizations to develop and renew regional education agreements with Indigenous Services Canada and the federal government will continue to advance work on this front.

The Government of Canada has established permanent bilateral mechanisms with First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders as a forum to identify joint priorities, co-develop policy and monitor progress honouring commitments to Call To Action 10.

The work of all 3 of these tables has included education as a priority area and legislative options for education may be discussed in the future should Indigenous partners identify legislation as a priority.

Indigenous Services Canada will be working to implement the Budget 2021 announcements related to funding for on-reserve education, as well as for COVID-19 supports for Indigenous post-secondary students.

11. We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education.

What's happening?

Indigenous Services Canada supports a number of strategies to provide financial assistance to eligible Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary education. Budget 2019 is providing $327.5 million over 5 years to enhance the First Nations Post-Secondary Student Support Program.

After a comprehensive review of federal supports for Indigenous post-secondary education announced in 2019, the Government of Canada committed to work with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and Métis National Council to develop distinctions-based strategies to advance post-secondary education.

These strategies would incorporate student support, understanding of local needs and community-based programs and services to holistically support Indigenous students to attain a post-secondary credentials.

As a result, beginning in 2019 to 2020, the government invested $125.5 million over 10 years, and $21.8 million ongoing, for a new Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy.

The Government of Canada also invested $362 million over 10 years, and $40 million ongoing, for a new Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategy.

Both distinctions-based programs came into effect on April 1, 2020.

Also in June 2019, the Minister of Indigenous Services signed the Post-Secondary Education Sub-Accord with the President of the Métis National Council. This sub-accord is built on an October 2018 memorandum of understanding and seeks to contribute to closing the post-secondary educational gaps between Métis Nation citizens and non-Indigenous Canadians through the delivery of effective post-secondary education supports and initiatives.

Indigenous skills and employment training

Employment and Social Development Canada's Indigenous labour market programming plays a key role to support the growth of Indigenous communities and fosters lifelong learning, skills development and training.

Federal support for Indigenous labour market programming has a long history, starting with the Pathways to Success program in 1991 to 1996 to the current Indigenous Skills and Employment Training (ISET) program launched in 2019. The ISET program is a co-developed, distinctions-based labour market program designed to support First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban or non-affiliated Indigenous peoples to improve their skills and work towards their long-term career goals.

The program funds a network of over 110 Indigenous service delivery organizations with over 650 points of service to provide Indigenous peoples with training and supports to improve their skills and secure employment.

As announced in the 2018 Budget, an investment of $2 billion over 5 years in the ISET program, and $408.2 million per year thereafter, will contribute to a reduction in the employment and skills gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

The program supports a holistic approach to service delivery that encompasses a wide range of labour market activities including locally designed programs in support of each distinctions-based labour market strategy. Indigenous service delivery organizations may provide:

  • employment-related and career development assistance
  • wrap-around services such as living expenses
  • financial assistance to support individuals in getting skills for employment
  • tuition or living expense costs
  • business coaching and mentorship
  • disability-related supports

The 2020 Fall Economic Statement announced a $144.2 million one-year investment for the ISET program in 2021 to 2022 to support COVID-19 recovery efforts by increasing training and supports for clients facing the most barriers through the ISET program. The additional investments under the ISET program will enable Indigenous organizations to focus programming on client needs, providing the wrap-around supports and expanded activities to improve the outcomes of Indigenous youth, persons with disabilities and out of territory or urban clients in post-pandemic recovery. From this envelope, $35.3 million in funding will directly support Indigenous youth.

Complementing the foundational supports provided through the ISET program, the Skills and Partnership Fund (SPF) is a project-based program that funds partnerships between Indigenous organizations and industry employers to provide skills training for Indigenous peoples linked to economic opportunities at the local, regional and national level.

By increasing access to training that is demand-driven, the SPF plays a key role in directly linking Indigenous peoples to specific jobs and improving their employment outcomes. SPF has the flexibility to adjust to government priorities and address emerging economic opportunities.

SPF aims to reduce the skills and employment gaps that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples and increase Indigenous participation in the labour market by ensuring Indigenous participants have improved skills and employment opportunities. With an ongoing investment of $50 million per year, SPF focuses on training Indigenous peoples for industry-identified, specific jobs that align with emerging labour market needs and government priorities.

Recent budget investments

The Government of Canada continues to support access to education for Indigenous students during recovery from the pandemic. In addition to the one-time increase of $75.2 million for 2020 to 2021 announced on April 22, 2020, Budget 2021 announced $150.6 million over 2 years ($75 million per year), starting in 2021 to 2022, to support Indigenous students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the Inuit and Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education strategies.

Many students are facing financial difficulty during the pandemic, as young people have suffered some of the worst job losses. This support would help offset lost income that many Indigenous students rely on to pay for tuition, books, housing and other living expenses.

Building on funding announced in August 2020 for 2020 to 2021, Budget 2021 also announced another one-time investment of $26.4 million for 2021 to 2022 to help alleviate the ongoing pressures facing Indigenous post-secondary institutions.

Recent progress

The Government of Canada is committed to working collaboratively with Indigenous partners in transforming the way the department approaches the review and implementation of policy and program reform. In 2019, after a review in partnership of the federal programs that were in place support Indigenous students in pursuing post-secondary education, ISC started to implement new, co-developed distinctions-based post-secondary education strategies aimed specifically at supporting Inuit, Métis Nation, and First Nations students and post-secondary institutions, in addition to supporting First Nations engagement on regional post-secondary models. These distinction-based strategies aim to address significant gaps in federal programming, including limited eligibility for Inuit and no access for Métis Nation, as well as supporting First Nations control of First Nations education through the development of regional post-secondary models.

In 2016 and 2017, Employment and Social Development Canada engaged with key Indigenous partners and organizations across the country to review and renew the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy. Following this engagement, Employment and Social Development Canada and Indigenous partners co-developed the implementation of the ISET program.

The program built upon the success of the previous Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, introducing several engagement identified enhancements.

These include:

  • the distinctions-based framework
  • greater stability of funding with 10-year agreements
  • improved flexibility
  • reduced administrative burden
  • strengthened supports for information gathering
  • stronger links to other programs

Indigenous service delivery organizations, some of which have been in place for over 20 years, continue to ensure that communities have access to skills and employment training designed and delivered by Indigenous-led organizations.

In January 2021, Employment and Social Development Canada launched a national engagement process gathering input from Indigenous partners, industry, educational institutions, provincial and territorial governments and other federal departments to inform the development of a future policy approach for the Skills and Partnership Fund.

This engagement will inform how the fund can advance federal priorities, support Indigenous peoples to engage in both economic and community opportunities, particularly in the context of COVID-19 economic recovery.

The modernizing of this fund looks to effectively target emerging and priority sectors and explore opportunities with Indigenous-industry partnerships aligned to overarching Indigenous community and government priorities and be more responsive to an evolving labour market context.

Following the completion of this engagement, a "What We Learned" summary report will be developed and shared publically. A new approach for future SPF investments will be communicated early in the new calendar year.

Next steps

Indigenous Services Canada will be working to implement the Budget 2021 announcements related to COVID-19 supports for Indigenous post-secondary students. As part of the Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, the Government of Canada also reconfirmed it will be focusing its efforts on increasing education, training and economic opportunities for Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

12. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to develop culturally appropriate early childhood education programs for Aboriginal families.

What's happening?

Budget 2021 invested $795 million for community managed prevention and early intervention supports. The Federal Pathway to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, released in June 2021, also affirms measures will be taken to support Indigenous-led education and awareness activities for Indigenous children, youth and families, and to improve and expand support and services to Indigenous children, families and communities based on their unique histories, cultures and circumstances. The implementation of several initiatives under the Federal Pathway is underway with Indigenous partners, including the launch of the Support for the Wellbeing of Families and Survivors of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People Contribution Program, which funds projects that provide assistance and services for the healing journeys of individual Indigenous family members and survivors who have missing or lost loved ones due to violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.

In addition, Canada has made, and continues to make, many important reforms to the First Nations Child and Family Services Program, since the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal's finding of discrimination in 2016.

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is working with partners to reform the FNCFS program and reduce the number of Indigenous children in care and to improve the well-being of children and their families. The FNCFS program began offering the Community Well-Being and Jurisdiction Initiatives in 2018, which is a unique funding stream that is directly accessible by First Nations to expand the availability of prevention and well-being initiatives that are responsive to community needs, and to support First Nations in developing and implementing jurisdictional models. Eligible activities under this funding stream can include developing and implementing culturally appropriate parenting programming.

In addition, reform of the FNCFS program includes fully implementing the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal by:

  • funding the actual costs of First Nations child and family services agencies in areas such as prevention
  • working to make the system child centered, community directed and focused on prevention and early intervention

Reform efforts within the Child and Family Services Reform Sector also include transitioning toward Indigenous peoples' exercise of partial or full jurisdiction over the development and delivery of child and family services.

In addition, the Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act) thatcame into force on January 1, 2020, affirms the rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services and establishes national principles, such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity and substantive equality. Under the act, the order of priority for the placement of an Indigenous child prioritizes the family and community and aims to shift the programming focus to prevention and early intervention to help Indigenous children stay with their families and communities.

As a continuation of engagement and dialogue with Indigenous partners, Provinces, and Territories on The Act, the department has established distinctions-based governance engagement mechanisms related to The Act. These community, regional and national-level engagements are venues for parties to highlight issues and make recommendations to governments relating to the effective implementation of The Act, such as:

  • coordination of information sharing
  • principles related to determining funding amounts
  • principles related to coordination of multiple family and community ties
  • oversight and evaluation
  • a data strategy
  • in-take systems, responsibility and coordination
  • liability
  • substantive equality

The principles and minimum standards established under the act are designed to benefit all Indigenous children and families regardless of whether Indigenous communities or groups decide to exercise jurisdiction over child and family services under the act.

Further, the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework introduced in September 2018 provides additional funding for Indigenous-led, enhanced culturally-appropriate Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care programs and services for Indigenous children and families. For example, the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities has provided funding to Indigenous community-based organizations to develop and deliver programs that promote the healthy development of Indigenous preschool children and their families. Data from 2017 to 2018 shows that 79% of Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities projects provided activities or meetings for parents. See Call to Action 12 for more information about how the government is working in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis governments and organizations to advance the early learning and child care goals of the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework.

Finally, action underway through the Public Health Agency of Canada delivers the Community Action Program for Children and the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, which provides a total of $80.6 million per year to community organizations who develop and deliver culturally-appropriate, early intervention public heath programming for pregnant individuals, children (aged 0 to 6) and families that face health inequities and other barriers to health, including Indigenous populations who live off reserve.

In addition, Public Health Agency of Canada develops resources and serves a national coordination role for the Nobody's Perfect parenting program, which aims to provide education and support on child health and development, parenting and coping skills to parents of children (aged 0 to 6) who face health inequity barriers, including Indigenous parents.

Next steps

The Federal Pathway, released in 2021, was a document intended for renewal. To this end, discussions with Indigenous partners as to the programs, initiatives and work moving forward are a necessary next step to identity priorities, needs and areas of work, including those related to Call to Action 12.

Further, the First Nations Child and Family Services program will continue to fund prevention and well-being initiatives through the Community Well-Being and Jurisdiction Initiatives, to respond to community needs which could include developing and implementing culturally appropriate parenting programming. Canada's reform efforts also include:

  • conducting significant engagement with, and seeking feedback from Indigenous partners
  • funding studies that provide options and recommendations on FNCFS program reform, such as those conducted by the Institute of Fiscal Studies and Democracy
  • having ongoing discussions with parties to achieve resolution of issues

The Government of Canada will also continue to engage with partners through governance mechanisms on The Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act). Further engagement and dialogue could include the participation of national, regional, and community governments and organizations that represent First Nations, Inuit and the Métis Nation, section 35 right holders, Treaty Nations, self-governing First Nations, plus Provincial, and Territorial governments, as well as experts and those with lived experience, including Elders, youth and women.

Finally, Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to support Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities recipients and sites in the Indigenous-led development of parental-related programming and enrichment activities. Public Health Agency of Canada will continue to support Indigenous partners' self-determined vision for Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care as part of the new Canada Wide Child Care Initiative. The Federal Pathway, released in June 2021, also commits to continue the progress towards an early learning and child care system that meets the needs of Indigenous families, wherever they live. This includes establishing before and after-school programming for First Nations children on reserve, providing additional funding to expand access to culturally appropriate Aboriginal Head Start day care programs and services, repairing and renovating existing Indigenous early learning and child care centres, as well as building and maintaining new centres.

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