Manitoba First Nations
School System (MFNSS) the first of its kind in Canada,
is a First Nations-designed school system, with funding comparable to
provincial school divisions. As the leader in First Nations education in
Manitoba, MFNSS recognizes and meets the unique needs of First Nations students,
providing a culturally relevant, high-quality education system.
While respecting First Nations control, treaty and
inherent rights, MFNSS supports schools to improve the quality and relevance of
education, improve academic standards, and increase student outcomes, including
retention, completion and graduation rates.
Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre
(MFNERC), in partnership with First Nations, established MFNSS, to support
student, staff and school administration, consistent with its mandate from
First Nations leaders through Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC).
In December 2016, MFNERC, First Nations leaders and
Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) now Indigenous Services Canada
(ISC) signed an Education Governance and Delegation Agreements, authorizing
MFNSS to provide educational programming and enhanced supports to First Nations
Fulfilling the vision of First Nation’s leadership to
take back control of First Nations education, MFNSS
assumed responsibility for administering and managing elementary and secondary
education programs and services for 10 First Nations, with more than 2000
students, in July 2017.
Schools signed on for an initial five-year term,
signaling the historic start of a partnership strengthening language and
culture within communities through holistic delivery and land-based education
from the most highly qualified First Nations education professionals in
The following First Nations are part of the MFNSS:
- Bloodvein First Nation – Miskooseepi School
- Brokenhead Ojibway Nation – Sergeant Tommy Prince School
- Dakota Plains Wahpeton First Nation – Mahpiya Hdega School
- Fox Lake Cree Nation – Fox Lake School
- Keeseekoowenin Ojibway Nation – Keeseekoowenin School
- Lake Manitoba First Nation – Lake Manitoba School
- Lake St. Martin First Nation -Lake St. Martin School
- Pinaymootang First Nation – Pinaymootang School
- York Factory First Nation - George Saunders Memorial School
- Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation – Ginew School
MFNSS remains under the umbrella of MFNERC governance structure during Phase One. This will evolve as the system develops.
The MFNSS governance structure includes a Governance Model, which describes the roles and responsibilities of the partners, and the reporting/communication relationships.
The MFNSS’s primary responsibility is to ensure students and schools have a high-quality and culturally appropriate education system that reflects the needs of the participating First Nations. The MFNERC Board establishes operating budgets and set policies. The System Director ensures all staff deliver education in a manner consistent with the policy.
The roles and responsibilities in the MFNSS Governance Model are:
MFNERC Board of Directors
The MFNERC Board continues to provide the overall governance and works with the System Director. They also communicate with the Local Advisory Representative(s) (LAR) through their Director of Education.
The System Director ensures the implementation of the policies and provides strategic direction for achieving goals. The System Director supervises the principals who are responsible for the day-to-day elements of school operations such as supervision of teachers and support staff, ordering equipment and supplies, and establishing timetables and schedules.
Local Advisory Representative(s) (LAR)
Each participating First Nation has the opportunity to identify a Local Advisory Representative(s) (LAR) using their own processes. The LAR is responsible for serving as a liaison with the System Director by providing advice and information.
The LAR may provide advice and information on:
- Programs, policies, procedures and activities;
- Human resources;
- School facility operation and maintenance;
- Short- and long-term priorities and planning; and
- Student transportation.
The MFNERC Board of Directors sets policy for the MFNSS. The policies include recommended guidelines and processes such as minimum number of days for instructional time, curriculum guidelines, and teacher certification.
The federal government has provided resources for development and implementation of the MFNSS model. Other First Nations in Canada are developing their own models based on their own needs.