We call upon the federal government to provide adequate funding to end the backlog of First Nations students seeking a post-secondary education

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusJune 14, 2021IN PROGRESS
Previous Status March 31, 2021IN PROGRESS

Why “In Progress”?

April 19, 2021 – Budget 2021 proposes $150.6M over two years to support Indigenous students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the Inuit and Métis Nation Post-Secondary Student Education Strategies as well as $26.4M in 2021-22 during COVID-19.

Oct. 23, 2020: Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada – A 13-member Task Force on Northern Post-Secondary Education will assist in delivering on objectives identified in the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework that seek to close gaps in education and skills training that exist between the North and the rest of Canada. Government of Canada is working with Provincial, Territorial, Indigenous, and community partners in the North and Arctic to develop long-term opportunities that provide greater access to quality education build healthier communities, and support a sustainable and dynamic economy. The committee will deliver recommendations on how to improve education.

April 23, 2020 – New one-time investment of $75M – including $65M for First Nations – through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.

Sept. 5, 2019 – The government has completed the comprehensive and collaborative review of post-secondary programs to ensure resources and support are available. Budget 2019 provides funding to support Post-Secondary Student Support Program for First Nations: $815 million over 10 years, starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, and $61.8 million ongoing in support of Indigenous post-secondary education:

  • First Nations: $327.5M over 5 years
  • Métis: $362M over 10 years and $40M per year ongoing
  • Inuit: $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8M per year ongoing

The annualized amount of $114.2M for the first 5 years shrinks considerably in year 6 to $48.7M for the Métis and Inuit and nothing for First Nations. By year 10 the annualized amount increases to $61.8 that is far LESS than the annual budget allocations for 2017 and 2018 of $90M.

June 10, 2019 – The Canada-Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Sub-Accord fulfills commitments outlined in the 2017 Canada-Métis Nation Accord and is a historic step in closing the post-secondary education attainment gap between Métis citizens and non-Indigenous Canadians

Federal Indigenous Post – Secondary Education Review

Assembly of First Nations

Resolution no. 48/2018 First Nations Post-Secondary Education Policy Proposal. Dec. 4-6, 2018

  1. Reaffirm First Nations inherent and Treaty Rights to post-secondary education (PSE).
  2. Reaffirm that jurisdiction over First Nations education remains with each First Nation.
  3. Affirm that the process concerning the First Nations PSE policy proposal is not intended to detract or hinder First Nations from advancing their PSE processes.
  4. Support the recommended First Nations PSE policy proposal, as represented in Policy Proposal (v8) to be presented to Cabinet as the First Nations submission through Indigenous Services Canada’s Memorandum to Cabinet. The policy proposal outlines the following:
    • Calls on the federal government to provide immediate investments to address the backlog of First Nations PSE students, support First Nations established institutes, and provide transitional funding for upgrading and completion in order to pursue PSE.
    • Seeks long-sought after changes to current PSE programs, Post-Secondary Student Support Programs (PSSSP).
    • Restructuring of Post-Secondary Partnership Program (PSPP) to align with the changes expressed in the policy proposal.

On June 18, 2019, the AFN was informed that the First Nations Post-Secondary Policy Proposal was approved by the federal cabinet. it confirmed support for First Nations-led Treaty-based and/or regional based processes to develop models that will best support First Nations PSE. In addition to significant changes in First Nations PSE models, further amendments to programs and policies include:

Residency Clause: Eligible recipients for PSE funding were previously subject to restrictions that included mandatory Canadian residency. New changes amend and broaden eligible recipients to Band Councils, organizations designated by Band Councils, and self-governing First Nations in the Yukon.

Post-Secondary Partnerships Program: Eligible recipients previously included mainstream institutions that were receiving First Nations funding. New changes amend eligible recipients exclusively to include Band Councils, organizations designated by Band Councils, community based regional bodies and the First Nations University of Canada.

Eligible Expenditures: 
The previous conditions contained overly prescriptive language around eligible expenditures in all First Nations PSE programs. New changes amend the prescriptive language and broaden expenditures to allow more flexibility for what each First Nation considers an appropriate expenditure. While the AFN continues to advocate for Post-Secondary Education to be funded as a Treaty and inherent right, based on the needs of all First Nations post-secondary students, amendments to policies and programs that support First Nations Control of First Nations Education are a welcome change.

Budget 2019 Investments

Budget 2019 allocated $327 million dollars over five years to First Nations for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program. The program aims to improve the socio-economic outcomes for First Nations by providing eligible students with funding to access education opportunities at the post-secondary level, consistent with the principle of First Nations control of First Nations educationThis falls far short of the $1.7 billion required to close the gap in post-secondary education.

Métis Nation

Canada – Métis Accord Post-Secondary Assistance:

The Parties agree on the need to enhance Métis Nation students’ access to post-secondary educational resources to increase their participation in post-secondary education. Discussions will include exploring options for resourcing strategies and the need for new investments in Métis scholarships and bursaries. Discussion will include examining current Métis access to student saving and financial assistance measures (i.e., Canada Student Loans and Grants, repayment assistance, Canada Education Savings Grant, and Canada Learning Bond) and how they support Métis Nation students.

Supports for Métis Nation Educational Institutes: The Parties will explore ways of expanding the capacity of existing Métis Nation post-secondary institutions such as the Gabriel Dumont Institute, Louis Riel Institute and Rupertsland Institute and exploring the need for additional institutions. This will include identifying innovative programming for Métis students in these institutions. The Parties may agree to invite representatives of provinces to all or part of these discussions.

Canada-Métis Nation Education Memorandum of Understanding October 2018 – Established to develop Canada-Métis Education sub-accords. Federal Budget 2018 provided a one-time investment of $10M to support Métis Nation post-secondary education through grants towards Métis Nation endowments

Canada-Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Sub-Accord June 10, 2019 – The Sub-Accord fulfills commitments outlined in the 2017 Canada-Métis Nation Accord and is a historic step in closing the post-secondary education attainment gap between Métis citizens and non-Indigenous Canadians. This Sub-Accord will establish new approaches aimed at improving the education outcomes of Métis Nation students and programs and support three activity streams including: student support, community-based programs and services, and governance capacity.

Budget 2019 Investments

Proposed an investment of $362-million over 10 years and $40-million ongoing to support Métis Nation post-secondary education, with the goal of supporting over 7,000 Métis Nation post-secondary students. the strategy consists of:

  • Eighty per cent of annual funding is reserved for direct financial support for Métis Nation post-secondary students
  • Ten per cent of annual funding is allocated for activities based on local needs assessments to promote students’ pursuit of post-secondary education and the attainment of a credential
  • Ten per cent of annual funding is reserved to strengthen Métis Nation education governance capacity
Inuit Tapariit Kanatami

Inuit Tapariit Kanatami Board of Directors Meeting: Resolution B19-12-06 – Funding Allocation Model for the Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy

Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy regional funding allocation model has been considered for funding of $123,965,813 over 10 years with $21,626,063 annually ongoing; the annual funding will be divided by four categories:

  • direct financial assistance to students (75% of funding)
  • programs and services (indirect student support) (15% of funding)
  • community engagement (5% of funding) and
  • governance/national coordination (5% of funding)


Budget 2019 Investments

Budget 2019 includes an Inuit-led post-secondary education strategy of $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8M per year ongoing

Inuit Post-Secondary Education Program

June 23, 2020 – Funding for the Inuit Post-Secondary Education (IPSE) Program comes from an investment of $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8 million per year thereafter announced in Budget 2019. About three-quarters of the funding will go towards direct support for Inuit students. Most of the balance will fund regional engagement activities to draw more Inuit students into PSE and services like academic training and counselling, to help Inuit students succeed in PSE programs.

The funding is available to Inuit regardless of their place of residency or where they are going to school if they are enrolled under:

  • the Inuvialuit Final Agreement
  • the Nunavut Agreement
  • the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement and
  • the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement

Funding will be administered by Inuit land claims organizations in the four regions of Inuit Nunangat or their designated delivery organizations, through existing program streams. Regional allocation of the funds for 2020 and 2021 follows a model agreed upon by the ITK Board of Directors in December 2019. It amounts to:

  • $1,052,531 for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region
  • $4,056,291 for Nunavut
  • $2,024,097 for Nunavik and
  • $963,470 for Nunatsiavut for the 2020-2021 year
Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

Budget 2016 provided $1.53 billion over 5 years to increase amounts of the Canada Student Grants and $329 million per year after that. It also announced that any funding provided by the Post-Secondary Student Support Program will no longer be treated as a student resource, meaning those funds will no longer impact eligibility for the Canada Student Loans Program’s non-repayable grants and loans support. As a result, Indigenous students will continue to be able to access both programs, as long as they meet eligibility criteria. This measure will increase the amount of non-repayable Canada Student Grants and Canada Student Loans that Indigenous students may receive.

Budget 2017 provided:

  • an enhancement of $90 million over 2 years, beginning in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which will support access to post-secondary education for an additional 4,600 First Nations and Inuit students
  • $100 million for the First Nations and Inuit Youth Employment Strategy Skills Link and Summer Work Experience program
  • $5 million per year for 5 years, starting in fiscal year 2017 to 2018, for Indspire, conditional on Indspire raising $3 million per year in matching funds from the private sector, which will leverage $40 million in bursaries and scholarships for more than 12,000 Indigenous students

The Government of Canada has completed a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all current federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education. The purpose of the review is to ensure that these programs provide Indigenous students with the resources and support they need to attend and complete post-secondary studies.

In addition, Budget 2019 announced $815 million over 10 years, starting in fiscal year 2019 to 2020, and $61.8 million ongoing in support of Indigenous post-secondary education. This includes:

  • $327.5 million over 5 years to support First Nations post-secondary students and the development of regional education strategies
  • $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8 million per year ongoing to support an Inuit-led post-secondary strategy
  • $362.0 million over 10 years and $40 million ongoing to support a Métis-Nation strategy