The First Nations Education Council (FNEC), a collective of 22 member First Nations communities, signed an education agreement with Canada to provide around $1.1 billion over five years to support a total of 5,800 Indigenous students in Quebec.
The agreement comes after 10 years of negotiations and, according to the government, will serve students by providing culturally appropriate curricula, extra funds for transportation to schools, and over 600 teachers and "specialized resources" for Indigenous students.
"This is a major step forward for our people," Kahnawà:ke Grand Chief Kahsennénhawe Sky-Deer said in a press release. "This agreement will provide Kahnawà:ke with the funding and assistance required for the next five years to ensure our children and young adults get an education that embodies our roots, language, and culture."
This education agreement is one of eight similar programs developed and implemented by the Canadian government alongside First Nations representatives. In total, these agreements are expected to impact 22,000 students.
"It is because of the determination of the First Nations Education Council and the 22 communities involved that this agreement could happen, and it will keep children connected to their language and culture through their schooling. This is what reconciliation looks like when we work together in partnership," Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu stated.
This agreement and others like it are intended to fulfill Article 14 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as contribute to several Calls to Action of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which ask that the Government of Canada ensure First Nations receive quality education that is controlled by First Nations themselves.