First Nation Lifelong Learning Table

The FNLL Table aims to enable First Nations and the government of Ontario to build a stronger, collaborative working relationship based on inclusion and mutual respect.

It is anticipated that the Table will improve communication and increase understanding resulting in improved support for First Nation learners in the provincial education system.

The purpose of a protocol is to provide instructions and guidance when carrying out activities. This protocol is ‘evergreen’ and will be updated on a regular basis as situations and circumstances evolve. This protocol will guide the activities of the First Nations Lifelong Learning Table by the First Nations in Ontario and the provincially funded education system. Adherence to this protocol will increase the mutual understanding of all parties involved and will serve as an effective means to clearly outline the parameters of the work being undertaken to improve the success and well-being of First Nation learners and collaboratively achieve shared goals.

Increased success and well-being for First Nation learners in both the provincially and federally funded education systems through a balanced, respectful, and collaborative relationship whereby collaborative work is planned, designed, implemented and regularly evaluated.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) has been fully adopted by Canada. The UNDRIP recognizes that “Indigenous families and communities retain shared responsibility for the upbringing, training, education and well-being of their children, consistent with the rights of the child”, and states that “[s]tates shall, in conjunction with Indigenous peoples, take effective measures, in order for indigenous individuals, particularly children, including those living outside their communities, to have access, when possible, to an education in their own culture and provided in their own language.”

The Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada outline many activities to be undertaken by the federal and provincial governments in collaboration with First Nation peoples to address the intergenerational impacts of the violence of colonialism. This violation of First Nations rights included the residential school system and the removal of First Nations children from their homes to systematically strip away their Indigenous languages, cultures, laws and rights. The province has vowed through The Journey Together to continue to walk hand in hand with First Nations to develop initiatives that address the detrimental impacts of colonialism and build trusting, respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.

Both the UNDRIP and the TRC Calls to Action are reactions to the detrimental impacts of colonialism that have resulted in the breakdown of sovereign Indigenous Nations and an interruption in the transmission of Indigenous traditional knowledge(s). Treaty agreements are an expression of this sovereignty and are based on the status of First Nations as self-determining, free peoples. The treaties represent a relationship that was and is intended to survive forever – a solemn commitment to the Nation to Nation relationship. Treaty agreements in Ontario are considered within the larger context of nationhood and mutual prosperity and thus secure First Nation jurisdiction over the education of their learners, regardless of where they reside.

The 133 First Nation communities in what is now known as Ontario have evolved from thirteen Indigenous Nations; namely, the Algonquin, Mississauga, Ojibway, Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Cayuga, Tuscarora, Cree, Odawa, Pottowatomi and Delaware. Historical, colonial practices of the settler governments have created division and an atmosphere of competition that must be considered and mitigated in future endeavours.

All activities undertaken to improve circumstances for First Nation peoples and communities must consider and respect the collective nature of Nations and the rich diversity among the First Nation communities in Ontario. All First Nation learners, regardless of where they learn and where they reside require education grounded in their own cultural, linguistic and geographic uniqueness.

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 FNECU.

Aboriginal people

Is a collective name for the original peoples of North America and their descendants.  The Canadian Constitution recognizes three groups of Aboriginal peoples – Indians, Métis and Inuit.  These are three separate peoples with unique heritages, languages, cultural practices and spiritual beliefs.

Board Action Plan

Public school boards in Ontario use Board Action Plans as a reporting tool that outlines all of the activities and initiatives schools boards and district authorities are undertaking to achieve the performance measures outlined in the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework.

Chiefs in Assembly

The Assembly is made up of the elected Chiefs of the 133 First Nation communities in located in what is now known as Ontario.  The Chiefs come together in June and November each year to participate in discussion and collective decision-making.  Issues are brought to the Chiefs in Assembly from one or more First Nations, from the Ontario Regional Chief, from the Political Confederacy and/or from the COO Secretariat.

Education Officer

Educations Officers in the Indigenous Education Office of the Ministry of Education are responsible for supporting district school board and district authorities in Ontario in the implementation of the First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework.

Elder/Indigenous Knowledge Keeper

First Nation people with extensive knowledge of tradition designated by First Nation communities and organizations to provide spiritual and cultural leadership.


Engagement refers to the active discussion between First Nations in Ontario and the Province in order to address mutually agreed upon priorities.

First Nation Community

Is the term preferred by First Nations people instead of the colonial terms ‘reserve’ or ‘band’.  It refers to a body of land set aside for collective use of a group of First Nations people by the Crown.

First Nations People

First Nations people are descendants of the original inhabitants of the territory that is now known as Canada.

First Nations people identify themselves by the nation to which they belong, for example, Mohawk, Cree, Oneida, and so on.


The term ‘Indian’ is a colonial and legal term used for First Nations people.

Indian Act

?The Indian Act is the principal statute through which the federal government administers Indian status, local First Nations governments and the management of reserve land and communal monies.


Means “native to the area.”  In this sense First Nations are indeed indigenous to what is now known as Canada.  Indigenous peoples in Canada include First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples.

Indigenous Education Advisory Council – support local implementation of the Framework by developing relationships with their communities, sharing information, identifying promising practices, and enhancing collaborative work.

Indigenous Leads

Indigenous Education Board Leads are responsible for supporting the implementation of the Ontario First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education Policy Framework (2007) and Implementation Plan (2014) through Board Action Plans on First Nation, Métis and Inuit Education.

Leads are expected to work closely with senior board administration staff and Indigenous Education Advisory Councils, to continue efforts to support improved student achievement and well-being among Indigenous students, and to close the achievement gap between Indigenous students and all students. Leads are expected to take part in planning processes, including the System Improvement Learning Cycle (SILC).

If a board does not have an Indigenous Education Advisory Council, it will be expected that the Lead work with senior board administration and First Nation, Métis and Inuit families, communities and organizations to establish an Indigenous Education Advisory Council.

Leads are expected to collaborate with Indigenous communities, organizations, students and families; support efforts to build the knowledge and awareness of all students about Indigenous histories, cultures, perspectives, contributions and topics of significance, such as residential schools; and, further support the implementation of voluntary self-identification processes.


Can be used interchangeably with the term student, however it is understood that ‘learner’ better reflects the holistic concept of lifelong learning.

Lifelong Learning

The First Nations holistic concept that learning begins at conception and carries on throughout the lifespan of the individual in both formal and informal settings.

Political Confederacy

The PC is the executive arm of COO.  Composed of the four Grand Chiefs of the PTOs, a representative from the IFN, Six Nations and the Mushkegowuk Council.  The principle objective of the PC is to implement Assembly decisions (Resolutions) and manage significant collective First Nation issues between assemblies.  PC assigns portfolios as required to Leadership.


The official procedure or system of rules governing a process.

Provincial Territorial Organization

There are 4 provincial territorial organizations (PTO) in what is now known as Ontario.  These include; Nishnawbe Aski Nation, the Union of Ontario Indians, the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians and Grand Council Treaty 3.  PTOs are the primary support for political advocacy and secretariat services for First Nations.

Provincially Funded Education System

Reserve / Reservation

Is a colonial term, which refers to a body of land set aside for collective use of a group of First Nations people by the Crown.


Freedom to determine political status and freedom to pursue economic, social and cultural development without external compulsion.

Student Success

Every student learns in his or her own way.  Ontario’s high schools are working with communities, employers, colleges, universities and training centres to offer more ways than ever to help students focus on their interests and support their learning. This means meeting the needs, interests and strengths of all students, engaging them in learning and better preparing them for graduation and beyond.


A formally concluded and ratified agreement between nations.

Treaty Right to Education 

First Nations people characterize treaties as a living document, which is the foundation from which Canada was created. First Nations interpret treaties in a broad sense, based on the spirit and intent of two nations. The importance of and right to education among First Nations people have been solidified through the treaties. When treaties were negotiated between the Crown and First Nations, our Treaty right to education was solidified.

Tribal Council

Tribal councils are non-political entities that provide technical services to a group of First Nation communities.  Tribal Councils have no independent status; they draw their powers entirely from their member communities.


The nature of well-being is complex and means different things to different people. Well-being can be understood to be a positive sense of self, spirit and belonging that is felt when our cognitive, emotional, social and physical needs are being met. It is supported through equity and respect for our diverse identities and strengths.

Well-being in early years and school settings is about helping children and students become resilient, so that they can make positive and healthy choices to support learning and achievement both now and in the future.

FNLLT Decision Making


Roles and Responsibilities

Timing Cycles