In Ontario, the majority of First Nation students attend publicly funded schools, with estimates of approximately 82 %. Some First Nations students who attend school within the provincial system live on-reserve but the majority live in urban areas and attend provincially funded schools. First Nations students continue to experience achievement gaps as compared to non-Indigenous counterparts within the provincial system.
First Nations communities and groups have long emphasized the importance of a collaborative, partnership approach to developing and implementing an education strategy that builds effective programs and services that serve the unique needs of First Nations students and communities. Under the direction of the First Nation Education Coordination Unit (FNECU) the Chiefs of Ontario (COO) engaged in discussions with the Indigenous Education Office (IEO) to develop a First Nation Education Strategy (FNES) based on known First Nation priorities. The discussions resulted in the establishment of a Bilateral Process – the First Nations Lifelong Learning Table (FNLLT).
The FNLLT provides a forum for Ontario’s First Nation leadership and the Ontario government and its ministry leaders to identify, prioritize, discuss and work to address issues and opportunities related to First Nations lifelong learning in the provincial education and training sector. Furthermore, the FNLLT aims to enable First Nations and the government of Ontario to build a stronger, collaborative working relationship based on inclusion and mutual respect for each party’s concerns and interests. It also aims to improve the mechanisms of communication while increasing understanding creating new opportunities for government and First Nations to work together to support student success and well-being for First Nation learners.
The central components of the FNLLT include a Steering Committee and the Central Policy and Planning Circle. The role of the Steering Committee is to provide overall advice and direction on the implementation of the strategic plan and make decisions at key points as required. The Steering Committee is comprised of the Minister and Deputy Minister of Education, the Ontario Regional Chief, the COO Chiefs Committee on Lifelong Learning and the COO Education Portfolio Holder.
The Central Policy and Planning Circle (CPPC) is a forum for ongoing and consistent engagement among the technical representatives of the First Nations Education Coordination Unit, the Chiefs of Ontario Education Unit, and the Ministry of Education. The CPPC is supported by the guidance of an Elder/Indigenous Knowledge Keeper.
More detailed information regarding the roles and responsibilities of the FNLLT Steering Committee and the CPPC can be found in the Terms of Reference for the FNLLT.