Four BC First Nations conclude self-government agreements regarding education

July 11, 2022 — Seabird Island, British Columbia — Crown–Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

In a celebration at Seabird Island today, four First Nations—Cowichan Tribes, Lil’wat Nation, ʔaq’am, and Seabird Island—were recognized and celebrated for concluding self-government agreements regarding education on their lands. Through their signed education jurisdiction agreements with Canada, the four First Nations now have recognized law-making authority over their Kindergarten-Grade 12 education systems, including authority over teacher certification, school certification, graduation requirements, curriculum, and course approvals.

The event is also a celebration of the establishment of the First Nations Education Authority (FNEA), which will assist Participating First Nations in developing the capacity to provide education on First Nation land. The board of the newly established FNEA will be comprised of two directors appointed by each of the Participating First Nations.

This achievement is a significant milestone towards realizing First Nations’ right 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 completed education jurisdiction agreements are landmark agreements that set the foundation for the four Participating First Nations to make decisions and pass laws in the best interests of their learners. This will support them in exercising control over their education on their lands instead of being subject to changes in federal policy.

First Nations in British Columbia have been working collectively for over two decades to advance First Nations control over education through the education jurisdiction initiative. The First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC), a policy and advocacy organization that represents and works on behalf of First Nations in BC, has provided a broad range of supports to First Nations pursuing education jurisdiction.


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