Terms of Reference for the FNECU

(Established in February 2000)



The activities of the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) are governed by the Political Confederacy. The purpose of the COO office is to enable the four PTO's and Independent First Nations to discuss and decide on regional, provincial, federal and national priorities affecting First Nations and to provide a unified voice on these issues. The main objective of the COO office is facilitate the discussion, planning, implementation and evaluation of all local, regional, provincial, federal and national matters affecting the First Nations in Ontario.



The Education Co-ordination Unit is a technical and advisory body operating under the umbrella of the Chiefs of Ontario. It is comprised of the Education Directors of the four associations and one representative from the Independent First Nations; in addition, four seats are reserved for established regional Aboriginal Education Organizations (e.g. Aboriginal Institutes' Consortium). The Unit receives support through the coordinating capacity of the Chiefs of Ontario office. The Education Coordination Unit, via the Education Coordinator, is responsible to the Political Confederacy (PC) of the Chiefs of Ontario. The Education Coordination Unit is responsible to provide the Ontario Education Portfolio with issues, briefing papers and specific strategies for political action.


The Education Coordination Unit will focus on education issues impacting First Nations people and First Nations communities including pre-school, elementary school, secondary school, post secondary school and training. It must also be noted that education is recognized as a lifelong learning process.


As the Federal and Provincial Governments move forward with various initiatives and strategies, some geared toward the greater authority and control of First Nations Education as developed and delivered by the First Nations communities, it is imperative that collaboration occurs among us. The Education Co-ordination Unit will be made available to facilitate and support First Nations' political and technical processes in place which will effectively respond to the initiatives of the federal/provincial governments.


The broad mandate of the Education Co-ordination Unit is as follows:

  1. To support, as appropriate, the independent efforts of the Education Directors in:
  • assisting First Nations to plan and develop Education services for their communities;
  • resolving issues emerging from legislation, regulations, policies and guidelines that impact First Nation requirements for Education Jurisdiction;
  1. To develop strategies and policy/position papers on Education issues for leadership and PPC Education Portfolio;
  2. To initiate consultation and facilitation of information sharing forums as relevant to the processes involved in the attainment of First Nation control of Education Jurisdiction;
  3. To develop a working and information sharing relationship that encourages strong communication linkages amongst First Nations and education organizations thereby ensuring that First Nations organizations receive ample notification of education issues and consultations requiring First Nations input and ensuring the elimination of duplication of services; (information sharing includes National Initiatives)
  4. To develop and maintain an information sharing relationship with the other COO councils and committees to continue effective coordination of Ontario-wide issues that overlap with the goal of strategizing to ensure the issues and the mandate as directed by the political process are followed through;
  5. To engage in regular intergovernmental liaison with federal and provincial government officials to facilitate information access for First Nations by providing reports to PTO's and other First Nation organizations on such meetings;
  6. To develop and strengthen an Ontario First Nation Education Network that provides a vehicle for sharing information and identifying models for Abest practices@ relevant to education;
  7. To present and make recommendations to the PC as supported by the Education Coordination Unit regarding:
  • conflicts between government guidelines, policy, regulations and legislation and First Nation initiatives in the Education;
  • the development of strategies and position papers;
  • overall progress of the Ontario Education Co-ordination Unit;
  • the resource requirements of the Education Coordination Unit;
  • any operational matters.


Coordination Unit is comprised of the Education Directors of the four provincial and territorial organizations (PTO's), a representative from the Independent First Nations as well as one representative from each of the Regional Aboriginal Education organizations.

Coordination Unit is supported and coordinated through the Chiefs of Ontario office by a Coordinator/Policy Analyst.

Coordination Unit through the Education Policy Analyst/Coordinator reports its decisions and brings forward recommendations directly to the PC of the Chiefs of Ontario.

The Ontario Education Portfolio is an ex-officio member of the Education Co-ordination Unit.



Coordination Unit will strive to operate on a consensus basis, in the interest of developing Ontario-wide positions on issues. Consensus is defined as agreement by all members of a group with regard to decisions or direction. In cases where consensus is not reached, recommendations will go forward, including the recommendation of the non-consenting party. The views of the non-consenting party will be made known.

The autonomy of First Nations and regions to assert their own direction and pursue programs at their own pace will be respected by the Coordination Unit. Regionalized approaches will not preclude coordination between regions where priorities, agendas, and approach are determined to be consistent and compatible with individual community initiatives.

Coordination Unit members will play an active role in bringing forward and discussing issues, stating concerns relative to their communities and regions, and giving direction for purposes of formulating the Units decisions or recommendations.

Each Co-ordination member will strive to volunteer their services to assist and offset the workload of the co-ordinator on specific Education issues.


The Coordination Unit will meet on a regular basis, to be determined by the members. The Education Co-ordinator/Policy Analyst from the Chiefs of Ontario office is required to attend all meetings of the Coordination Unit.

A minimum of three Directors or their designates will constitute a quorum for purposes of conducting meetings to discuss issues. Coordination Unit will make decisions on broad encompassing issues by discussing and achieving consensus on Ontario-wide positions relevant to these issues. Where a coordinated and united position is not feasible due to regional differences, timing or priorities, the minutes and any recommendations/position papers will reflect such disparity.

Meetings will be convened by the Coordinator/Policy Analyst at the request of the Coordination Unit members and the minutes of all meetings will be recorded. The Coordinator/Policy Analyst will notify absent members of all decisions made and provide any missed meeting materials/information.

The reporting relationship on issues defined within the Coordination Unit's agenda is directly from the Coordinator/Policy Analyst to the PC. Individual Directors' accountability to their Executive Directors and Chiefs/Councils will be respected by the Coordination Unit. As noted under principles, the Coordination Unit respects the autonomy of First Nations in asserting their own direction and approach to all issues and programs, including internal First Nation and regional processes for reporting on and ensuring accountability to communities on Education issues. All agenda items will be submitted 5 working days in advance of meetings.

The Coordination Unit shall monitor expenditures related to Education initiatives and activity approved under the authority and management of the Coordination Unit. Monthly financial statements will be provided by the Chiefs of Ontario office to the Coordination Unit for review.


Evaluation of the activity of the Coordination Unit will take place prior to the end of each fiscal year. Evaluation will be based on the Coordination Unit's level of success in collectively achieving strategic goals and objectives as set out in a strategic plan and will be done independently by each education member. A roll-up report conducted by an independent resource person will suffice as the final annual evaluation report.

Approved by the Political Confederacy:

Grand Chief - Nishnawbe-Aski Nation Grand Chief - Union of Ontario Indians and Allied Indians