Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) is the Government Department that has oversight over most of the funding that is given to First Nations and First Nation organizations through various funding arrangements. Some of the funding is considered ‘core’ funding which indicates that it is provided year over year. Other funding is provided through proposal based funding, where the First Nation or First Nation organization complete a proposal to access funding for specific purposes (outlined in the program funding management regime). The First Nation Student Success Program (FNSSP), Education Partnerships Program (EPP) and New Paths Program (NP) a some of the proposal based programs in education.
In previous fiscal years, funding for First Nations and First Nation organizations to explore making changes to the First Nation k-12 education system was called ‘structural readiness’ funding and was part of both the EPP and FNSSP funding programs. The funding was available in one year blocks with a new proposal required each year. In the 2016 federal budget the government provided 5 years of additional funding for ‘structural readiness’, which was renamed ‘Transformation’ funding and which now accepts one to three year funding proposals.
Transformation funding continues what the Liberal government first set out to do as part of the Kelowna Accord, provide funding to explore and implement First Nations ‘Regional Managing Organizations’ for k-12 education. Currently Transformation funding still remains as part of the FNSSP program to ensure funding could be flowed. Some of the things that Transformation projects can do are research into organizational structure, bring stakeholders together to form partnerships, develop policies, processes, procedures to be used in an organization, review existing funding and funding sources, develop funding models that are equitable and sustainable, ensure community consultation takes place, develop documentation and assist with the costs associated with the ratification and implementation of the finalized organization.
As part of Transformation, the federal government, through INAC, has also indicated that there will be additional funding available to the First Nation education organizations to operate the education system. In Saskatchewan this was explained as ‘the provincial per student amount plus an additional amount to allow First Nation students to ‘catch up”. The ‘additional’ amount was not known or explained but is recognized as required.
To navigate the changes that have been made and will continue to be made in Transformation, to develop a proposal for funding, and to put in place a process to explore, develop and implement a k-12 organization will take time and many dedicated individuals. But to ensure First Nation students have the same opportunities for success as others requires that the work be done.
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