First Nations Schools

First Nation schools are funded by the federal government, through the department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), and operated by local First Nations.

In B.C., First Nations and their schools are supported by the First Nations Education Steering Committee (FNESC) and the First Nations Schools Association (FNSA).

First Nation schools are outside of the Province’s jurisdiction except for those that choose to also become B.C. certified independent schools. These schools operate according to the Independent School Act (PDF).

At the same time, through the Tripartite Education Framework Agreement (TEFA), B.C. plays a partnership role, helping to build capacity in this First Nations school system. B.C.’s TEFA commitments include the following:

  • Consulting early on changes to provincial education legislation, policy, standards, and funding
  • Sharing expertise, learning resources, and bulk purchasing opportunities
  • Giving on-reserve schools access to B.C. provincial exams and the Dogwood diploma


TEFA was signed in January 2012 by B.C., Canada, and FNESC.

TEFA complements the Education Jurisdiction Framework Agreement, which was first signed in July 2006 by the same three parties.

As part of its commitment to education jurisdiction for First Nations, and to helping First Nation schools build capacity, the Province pays reciprocal tuition for school-aged students who, while the funding responsibility of B.C., choose to attend band-operated schools on reserve. There are now over 1,000 eligible full-time students, bringing the student population in First Nation schools to over 5 000.

Local Education Agreement one or more First Nation and board of education or independent school authority to support Status First Nation students choosing to attend B.C.-system schools.


Partner Organaizations

FNESC is a First Nations-controlled organization established in 1992 to collectively ensure quality education for all First Nations learners in British Columbia.

First Nations in B.C. began to establish on-reserve schools in the mid-1970s. By 1987, these schools began regularly working together on common interests, including school authority, standards, curriculum, cultural programming, parental participation, and certification.

The FNSA was formally incorporated in 1996: to promote quality education for First Nations learners; to maximize the use of resources for improving the quality of education being offered to First Nations students; to support the work of the First Nations schools in developing and implementing culturally appropriate, meaningful, and quality educational programs; and, to provide a forum for networking, communication, and liaison among First Nations schools, other educational organizations, and governments. 

Initiatives developed by the FNSA include the following:

  • School certification
  • First Nations teacher competencies, standards, and certification
  • School measures and data collection
  • Parental and community engagement initiatives
  • Teacher recruitment and retention
  • Special education

INAC is committed to working in partnership with First Nations, provincial governments, and other key stakeholders to provide culturally-responsive and high-quality education to First Nation students living on reserve.

The vision of the Métis Nation British Columbia is to build a proud, self-governing, sustainable Nation in recognition of Inherent Rights for Métis citizens.

MNBC develops and enhances opportunities for Métis Chartered Communities and Métis people in British Columbia by providing culturally relevant social and economic programs and services.

MARR leads the Province of British Columbia in reconciliation efforts with First Nations and Aboriginal peoples. A key component of reconciliation involves building and maintaining relationships and partnerships, which create opportunities to collaborate on building a strong economy and a secure tomorrow so that all British Columbians, including First Nations and Aboriginal peoples, are able to pursue their goals. MARR is also responsible for the First Peoples’ Cultural Council, a provincial Crown Corporation formed in 1990 to administer the First Peoples’ Heritage, Language, and Culture Program.