Funding to support Special Education in First Nation communities in Ontario is provided through various avenues.  The main source of funding is determined through the Interim Funding Formula and provided as core funding.  Additional resources are provided to First Nations that qualify through the federal High Cost Special Education Program. This funding approach supports an intervention-based approach whereby formal assessments are not required before intervention strategies are introduced.

Ontario First Nations use an intervention-based approach to high-cost Special Education, whereby funding is determined by formula. A benefit of this approach is that formal assessments are not required before intervention strategies are introduced. The federal High-Cost Special Education Program (HCSEP) covers services for students whose moderate to profound needs cannot be met through the low-cost allocation included in the Interim Funding Formula.

Funding for the HCSEP is a targeted allocation, meaning that funding is a full and final allocation that can only be spent on First Nation students who ordinarily reside on reserve and are assessed or in the process of being assessed, by an appropriate professional as having moderate to profound special needs not met within existing education programming and services.

The Ontario First Nation Special Education Working Group (OFNSEWG) is a joint technical and advisory body of the Chiefs of Ontario and Indigenous Services Canada established in 2005. The OFNSEWG is mandated by the First Nations Education Coordination Unit (FNECU) to provide recommendations on issues and specific strategies for political review and/or approval for action. OFNSEWG membership includes representation from:

  • Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI)
  • Grand Council Treaty #3 (GCT3)
  • Independent First Nations (IFN)
  • Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN)
  • Anishinabek Nation (AN)
  • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Ontario Region

The OFNSEWG has been mandated through various COO Resolutions to continue to gather data for the development of recommendations on program improvements and reform. Based on these mandates, the OFNSEWG continues to collect and analyze pertinent data and work with First Nation recipients to develop ways to enhance the current funding mechanism (program, formula and funding levels).

Federal Budget 2016 implementation provides a significant increase in HCSEP funding levels from 2016-17 through 2020-21. Resolution 20/16 from June 2016 mandates the OFNSEWG to administer a needs-based process to ensure HCSEP recipients receive adequate funding levels to deliver the required special education services for First Nation students. Further, resolution 27/19 from June 2019 allows First Nations in Ontario to receive their High-Cost Special Education funding through the Interim Funding Formula Approach (IFA) as part of their core education budget. Resolution 27/19 also states that the funding amounts outside of core (IFA) be provided to ensure that no First Nation receives less than the High-Cost special education funding received through the 2017/2018 COO High-Cost Special Education formula.


What is a Special Education Support Technician (SEST)?

There are two SESTs providing support to the First Nations in Ontario. They are based out of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The role of the SESTs is to support and assist First Nations with:

  • effective use of HCSEP funding;
  • understanding and addressing capacity issues around Special Education;
  • collection and analysis of information related to improving the First Nations Special Education programs;
  • liaise and strengthen relationships with First Nations, Tribal Councils, Chiefs of Ontario, school boards and other organizations;
  • identifying and addressing barriers and challenges in the delivery of Special Education services;
  • support with policy development, and tuition service agreements;
  • organize Special Education Sharing Forums across Ontario;

Central, North Eastern & Southern Region
Patricia Magiskan

  • Aroland First Nation
  • Attawapiskat First Nation
  • Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation
  • Batchewana First Nation
  • Bearskin Lake First Nation
  • Brunswick House First Nation
  • Cat Lake First Nation
  • Chapleau Cree First Nation
  • Chapleau Ojibway
  • Constance Lake First Nation
  • Eabametoong First Nation
  • Fort Albany First Nation
  • Fort Severn First Nation
  • Fort William First Nation
  • Ginoogaming – Long Lac #77
  • Independent First Nations Alliance
  • Kasabonika First Nation
  • Kashechewan First Nation
  • Keewaytinook Okimakanak Tribal Council
  • Ketegaunseebee (GardenRiver)
  • Kiashke Zaaging Anishinaabek
  • Kingfisher Lake First Nation
  • M’Chigeeng First Nation
  • Matachewan First Nation
  • Mattagami First Nation
  • Marten Falls First Nation
  • Mississauga #8
  • Missanabie Cree First Nation
  • Moose Cree First Nation
  • Muskrat Dam First Nation
  • Nibinamik First Nation
  • Neskantaga – Lansdowne House
  • North Caribou Lake
  • Northern Nishnawbe Ed Council
  • Ojibways of Saugeen #258
  • Pays Plat First Nation
  • Red Rock First Nation
  • Sachigo First Nation
  • Sagamok First Nation
  • Sandy Lake First Nation
  • Serpent River First Nation
  • Sheguiandah First Nation
  • Shibogama First Nations Council
  • Taykwa Tagamou Nation (New Post)
  • Temagami First Nation
  • Thessalon First Nation
  • United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising/KTEI
  • Wahgoshig – Abitibi #70
  • Wawakapewin First Nation
  • Webequie First Nation
  • Weenusk First Nation
  • Wikwemikong Unceded
  • Whitesand First Nation

North Western & Southern Region
Susan Deley

  • Alderville First Nation
  • Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation
  • Animakee Wa Zhing 37
  • Asubpeeschoseewagong
  • Bkejwanong
  • Chippewas of Kettle & Stony Point
  • Chippewas of Nawash
  • Chippewas of Saugeen First Nation
  • Chippewas of the Thames
  • Couchiching First Nation
  • Curve Lake First Nation
  • Deer Lake First Nation
  • Hiawatha First Nation
  • Iskatewizaagegan #39 IFN
  • Keewaywin First Nation
  • Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug
  • Lac Des Mille Lac
  • Lac La Croix First Nation
  • Lac Seul First Nation
  • Migisi Sahgaigan
  • Mishkeegogamang
  • Mishkosiminiziibiing
  • Mississaugas of Credit
  • Mitaanjigaming First Nation
  • Mohawks of Akwesasne
  • Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte
  • Moravian of the Thames
  • Naicatchewenin First Nation
  • Naongashiing
  • Naotkamegwanning
  • Nigigoonsiminikaaning
  • Niisaachewan
  • North Spirit Lake First Nation
  • Northwest Angle #33 First Nation
  • Ojibways of Onigaming
  • Oneida Nation of the Thames
  • Pikangikum First Nation
  • Poplar Hill First Nation
  • Rainy River First Nation
  • Seine River First Nation
  • Shawanaga First Nation
  • Shoal Lake #40
  • Six Nations of the Grand River
  • Slate Falls First Nation
  • Waabigonii Zaaga’igan
  • Wabaseemoong First Nation
  • Wabauskang First Nation
  • Wahta Mohawk Territory
  • Wapekeka First Nation
  • Washagamis Bay
  • Wauzhushk Onigum
  • Wunnumin First Nation



The Chiefs of Ontario, Special Education Technicians provide a quarterly newsletter for First Nation communities and organizations to share relevant and valuable information specifically on High cost special education. Suggestions for articles are always welcome. To be featured in “Our Gifted Children” please send your story to Susan Deley at Susan.Deley@coo.org or Patricia Magiskan at Patricia.Magiskan@coo.org