The newly unveiled Pays Plat First Nation flag. - Photo courtesy of Jesse Achneepineskum
In the field of education the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Policy Framework remains the principle guide the Ministry of Education uses to support Indigenous students in kindergarten to grade twelve. As was observed in the Chiefs of Ontario’s 2010 Annual report, the Policy Framework has had a range of impacts on First Nations relationships with school boards, with some achieving a greater degree of success than others. One of the areas where challenges persisted with the framework was with the Education Service or Tuition Agreements that First Nations enter into with school boards.
To address the issues associated with the process, the Chiefs of Ontario Education Coordination Unit, the Ontario Public School Board Association, the Ministry of Education and AANDC have been working towards the development of a Education Services (Tuition) Agreement Guidebook: A Resource for Ontario School Boards and First Nations to support First Nations and school boards negotiating agreements. The guidebook factors in recent Ministry of Education regulatory changes that affect how fees First Nations must pay per student attending provincial schools are calculated; clarify the roles and responsibilities of each party and streamline the negotiation of agreements; and, will result in agreements that are both legal and binding.
The Education Services (Tuition) Agreement Guidebook: A Resource for Ontario School Boards and First Nations will be distributed to First Nations and provincial school boards early in the 2012/13 academic year.
Another area of concern is the gradual erosion of Ontario’s commitment to First Nations Languages programming. The ECU continues to build relationships with the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and the Ministry of Education to ensure the educational needs of First Nations are addressed in the provincial education system.