Updated: Feb 28, 2019
"Today, the Honourable Seamus O'Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, and National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), announced a new co-developed policy and improved funding approach that will better support the needs of First Nations students on-reserve." Government of Canada announcement Jan 21/19
This is such good news for First Nations across Canada, as education program funding for First Nation students has typically lagged substantially behind program funding for their Provincial counterparts. For example, here in Alberta, the program funding provided by the Federal Government for First Nation students is $9,800 per student per year, while the Province provides approximately $13,500 per student per year for students in the Provincial school system.
To further exacerbate the difference, often when a First Nation student attends a Provincial school, that school will claim an additional $2,500 Special Education allowance for that child, simply because they are First Nation, regardless of whether or not they require any additional supports or services. If that child returns to their First Nation community to attend school, the funding drops back down to $9,800. In order to claim a Special Education allowance for that child on their own reserve, they must go through a process of being formally assessed, which has a substantial cost attached. Provincial schools are not required to go through this same process to claim the Special Education allowance for First Nation students. Yes, this makes our heads explode also. If funding for First Nation students attending schools off reserve is as high as $16,000, then it should be this high when they return home.
We are hopeful that this new policy will help to rectify the lack of equity in education program funding for First Nation students.