Education for reconciliation
Learn how the Government of Canada is responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action 62 to 65.
Based on data provided June 2023.
62. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:
- Make age-appropriate curriculum on residential schools, Treaties, and Aboriginal peoples' historical and contemporary contributions to Canada a mandatory education requirement for Kindergarten to Grade Twelve students.
- Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.
- Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.
- Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Aboriginal content in education.
While the Government of Canada is the lead for Call to Action 62.3, where possible, it will continue to raise and advocate for further Call to Action 61 application with relevant partners. Provinces and territories are at various stages of implementation for 62.1.
Summary of progress to date
Between 2016 and 2018, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) supported community-level engagement with First Nations and co-develop a transformed policy and funding approach for First Nations elementary and secondary education to better support the needs of students on reserve. 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.
Implemented as of April 1, 2019, with subsequent enhancements in 2021 and 2022, the new co-developed framework:
- replaces outdated programs based on proposal submissions with improved access to predictable core funding
- provides base funding that is comparable to provincial systems across the country
- provides First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 schools with additional support for language and culture programming
- provides new resources that support full-time kindergarten in First Nations schools for children ages 4 and 5
- provides supports for before and after school programing and menstrual products
- supports the development of Regional Education Agreements to respond to the education goals and priorities set by participating First Nations communities
This transformed funding approach for elementary and secondary education has resulted in a 80% funding increase between 2015 to 2016 and 2021 to 2022 in First Nations on reserve education funding.
Indigenous Services Canada also supports First Nations in building the capacity to engage with provincial and territorial governments on such matters, given that education falls under their jurisdiction.
The Government of Canada has worked to build relationships with organizations such as the Council of Ministers of Education, to enhance the knowledge and awareness of Indigenous history and culture across Canada. However, provinces and territories are wholly responsible for modifying school curricula to ultimately raise awareness on residential schools and Indigenous peoples' historical and contemporary contributions to Canada.
For further information on the Government of Canada's funding to support the establishment of Indigenous law institutes for the development, use and understanding of Indigenous laws and access to justice in accordance with the unique cultures of Indigenous peoples in Canada, consult the response to Call to Action 50.
Recent budget investments
Through Budget 2022, the Government of Canada invested an additional $310.6 million over 5 years to better support elementary and secondary student outcomes through a Regional Education Agreement with the Quebec First Nation Education Council (FNEC). FNEC's Regional Education Agreement, developed for 22 Quebec communities, not only reflects self-determination principles but is also based on over 10 years of work on the part of FNEC and its member communities to design and develop an education funding model that is responsive to the specific needs and priorities of the communities' students, such as implementing Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms. The agreement will provide a total envelope of approximately $1.1 billion over 5 years for these communities to implement education programs that will support the academic success of First Nations students.
The investments in Budget 2022 build on funding announcements in Budget 2021 in which the Government of Canada continued to take steps to close the education gap between First Nations peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians. Budget 2021 included $726 million over 5 years and $188 million ongoing, to enhance funding for the co-developed framework for elementary and secondary education in critical areas, such as:
- student transportation
- ensuring funding for First Nations schools on reserve remains predictable from year to year
- increasing First Nations control over First Nations education by concluding more Regional Education Agreements
Budget 2021 also included $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.
First Nations or mandated First Nations education organizations continue to express interest in the development and renewal of Regional Education Agreements with ISC, which will continue to support First Nations control of First Nations education and a path to service transfer.
63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:
- Developing and implementing Kindergarten to Grade Twelve curriculum and learning resources on Aboriginal peoples in Canadian history, and the history and legacy of residential schools.
- Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.
- Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
- Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.
The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada is responsible for the response to Call to Action 63.
64. We call upon all levels of government that provide public funds to denominational schools to require such schools to provide an education on comparative religious studies, which must include a segment on Aboriginal spiritual beliefs and practices developed in collaboration with Aboriginal Elders.
As education falls under provincial jurisdiction, the provincial and territorial governments are responsible for the response to Call to Action 64.
65. We call upon the federal government, through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, post-secondary institutions and educators, and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and its partner institutions, to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.
The goal of the collaboration between the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) is to support the establishment of a national research program in response of the Call to Action 65. This national research program will take the form of a reconciliation network that required the creation of a coordinating body called the Coordination Hub (RNCH).
Launched last Summer for a Fall 2022 attribution, the Coordination Hub for the reconciliation network was a one-time special initiative that led to the award of an institutional Connection Grant, valued at $100,000 annually for 7 years.
This grant awarded to the NCTR to create the Coordination Hub will enable it to support solid interactions between the network's participating researchers, their organizations and communities and to develop meaningful and efficient activities. The Coordination Hub will ensure:
- administrative support for knowledge mobilization activities of the reconciliation network
- research support through access to relevant archives and educational materials
- organization of annual conferences
An additional $10,000 per year amount was also granted as a supplement for translation and interpretation fees. These additional funds will be utilized for the translation of key knowledge mobilization documents and videos to ensure adequate support for reconciliation network teams working in both official languages. With the supplemental funds, the total awarded for the duration of the grant is $770,000.
On November 23rd, 2022, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, along with the NCTR, announced the launch of the Reconciliation Network in response to Call to Action 65.
The Reconciliation Network will see SSHRC investing up to $6 million, with each grant valued at a maximum of $1 million over 5 years. The investment will support a national research program with multiyear funding to advance the collective understanding of reconciliation. The funded recipients will participate in activities managed by the NCTR, in its role as coordination hub for the network.
Teams led by First Nations, Métis Nation or Inuit researchers are invited to submit proposals for new or existing formal partnerships that contribute to our collective understanding of truth and reconciliation. Proposals could address residential school history; the ongoing legacy of residential schools; past Canadian policies of assimilation in one or more areas, including child welfare, education, language, culture, health and justice; or other significant issues.
Recent budget investments
Under Budget 2018, $3.8 million in funding was provided to support the commitment to Call to Action 65 by developing a new strategic plan, setting new directions to support Indigenous research and research training in Canada from 2019 to 2022.
The plan identifies new models and mechanisms to conduct research by and with Indigenous communities, based on the results of 2 engagement exercises. The first involved organizing a series of roundtables and workshops in partnership with Indigenous organizations, while the second involved funding Indigenous organizations and researchers to support their own research engagement activities.
In total, 116 projects were funded through the Indigenous Research and Reconciliation Connection grants. The engagement exercise culminated in a National Dialogue event in March 2019, followed by the release of a new strategic plan in January 2020.
The first call for the Reconciliation Network in Response to Call to Action 65 was launched in fall 2022 and closed in May 2023. Applications to the program are being assessed with results to be announced in late 2023.
In addition, the Tri-Agency launched the Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research (ILCR) in 2022. It held its first in-person meeting in the fall of 2022.
The ILCR supports the implementation of research and assists in monitoring progress. Members of the ILCR belong to First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across the country and represent a variety of disciplines. Members come from postsecondary institutions, Indigenous not-for-profit organizations, and other research communities.
Collectively, the appointees have a deep cultural understanding of Indigenous research and Indigenous knowledge. ILCR serves as a forum for Indigenous guidance and direction on issues related to reconciliation and Indigenous research, including Call to Action 65.
More broadly, work is underway to implement the recommendations generated by working groups and through engagement with the Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research in areas that support reconciliation. These include:
- building relationships with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples
- supporting the research priorities of Indigenous Peoples
- creating greater funding accessibility to granting agency programs
- championing Indigenous leadership, self-determination and capacity in research
To date, key accomplishments related to Call to Action 65 include:
- generating key pieces of work, including:
- an environmental scan of current Indigenous research funding landscape
- preliminary identification of mechanisms for indirect financial or operational support
- ongoing development and implementation of tools and models to confront barriers within application processes
- a new SSHRC-NSERC pilot funding supplement for Indigenous students, to better support their representation and success in research
- a pilot process for merit review in Cree as a case study, through the SSHRC President's office
Applications made to the Reconciliation Network in Response to Call to Action 65 are being assessed and the results are not yet available.
The co-development process with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation for the Reconciliation Network funding opportunity has resulted in a strong and ongoing relationship with the NCTR. Together, we continue to seek new opportunities to support advancing understanding of factors associated with reconciliation.
In addition, through the Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research, work is being undertaken to realize all of the goals of Setting New Directions to Support Indigenous Research and Research Training in Canada , for which the implementation timeline has been extended to March 31, 2026.
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