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 August 2021.

62. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:

  1. 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.
  2. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.
  3. Provide the necessary funding to Aboriginal schools to utilize Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods in classrooms.
  4. Establish senior-level positions in government at the assistant deputy minister level or higher dedicated to Aboriginal content in education.

What's happening?

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 worked closely with First Nations to fundamentally transform funding for First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 schools on reserve.

On April 1, 2019, the new funding approach was launched so that students in First Nations kindergarten to grade 12 schools are supported by funding that is comparable to funding in provincial education systems, plus additional investments for language and cultural programming and support for full-day kindergarten for First Nations children aged 4 and 5.

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 proposes to invest an additional $310.6 million over 5 years to support better students outcomes through a regional education agreement with the Quebec First Nation Education Council (FNEC). FNEC's REA, 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. The agreement will provide a total envelope of approximately $1.1 billion over five years for 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, including proposed investments, which started 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

Next steps

ISC will be working to implement the Budget 2021 announcements related to funding for on-reserve education.

63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:

  1. 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.
  2. Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.
  3. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.
  4. Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.

What's happening?

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.

What's happening?

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.

What's happening?

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, for a total of $700,000.

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 develop 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

Finally, 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.

Recent progress

Following the release of the strategic plan in 2020, the federal research granting agencies have formed several internal and external working groups to undertake the objectives of the plan.

Most recently, the Tri-Agency launched the Reference Group for the Appropriate Review of Indigenous Research in December 2020. This group, composed of 18 Indigenous scholars from across the country, will advise the 3 granting agencies on culturally appropriate evaluation approaches and practices for research conducted by and with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

Collectively, the appointees have a deep cultural understanding of Indigenous research and Indigenous knowledge. The work of this group will help shape initiatives that respond directly to this call to action.

The establishment of a new Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research, as recommended in the strategic plan, is also moving forward. The new Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research will advise the granting agencies on the implementation of the strategic plan (setting new directions) and will serve as a forum for Indigenous guidance and direction on issues related to reconciliation and Indigenous research, including Call to Action 65.

A call for Indigenous nominations was issued in November 2020 and the first meeting of the new Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research will be scheduled later in 2021.

Finally the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council is collaborating with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to develop a framework to establish a national research program with multi-year funding to advance understanding of reconciliation.

Next steps

The co-development process with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation will be continued to establish a national research agenda with multi-year funding to advance understanding of factors associated with reconciliation, the Indigenous Leadership Circle in Research.

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