Jurisdiction over education is the formal recognition by the federal and provincial governments of First Nations’ inherent rights to make laws related to the education of their children. This includes law-making authority over curriculum development, graduation requirements, teacher certification, and school certification.

Updates and Key Resources

  • Three new Education Jurisdiction Agreements have been signed by Canim Lake Band, Ditidaht First Nation and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation). Through the conclusion of these self-government agreements, the Participating First Nations now have recognized law-making authority over Kindergarten-Grade 12 education on their lands. Learn more…

Jurisdiction Background

First Nations across Canada have been seeking recognition of their inherent right to have control over their education for decades, viewing this as a critical component of their First Nations rights, as well as a meaningful part of their efforts to improve the quality of education provided to First Nations learners.

Significant accomplishments have been made by First Nations in BC in regard to the advancement of First Nations jurisdiction for education. First Nations, federal, and provincial government representatives signed a full package of jurisdiction agreements on July 5, 2006. Subsequently, the federal and provincial governments passed enabling legislation for these agreements. Currently, negotiations are expected to conclude in the summer of 2020.

All of the Participating First Nations, with support from the First Nations Education Steering Committee, have been engaged in several capacity building activities, and a great deal of collective work has been done in BC to develop mechanisms, templates, resources, and capacity building initiatives that will support the success of the jurisdiction initiative.

Through the jurisdiction initiative, First Nations determined that they wanted to collectively exercise jurisdiction over certain areas of education. As a result, they decided to jointly establish the First Nations Education Authority (FNEA), as an independent regulatory body. The purpose of FNEA, as described in federal enabling legislation, is:

  • to assist participating First Nations in developing the capacity to provide education on First Nation land and to provide for any other matters related to education that may be agreed to by the Authority and a participating First Nation in accordance with an individual agreement.

As of July 1, 2022, the FNEA established its board of directors and became formally operational. Each Participating First Nation (PFN) appoints 2 directors to the FNEA board. The directors, through FNEA, jointly establish rules for matters delegated by PFNs over the following areas:

  • Teacher certification and regulation (other than First Nations Language and Culture Teachers);
  • School certification;
  • Graduation requirements; and approval of courses required for graduation; and
  • Any other matters delegated by Participating First Nations in the future.