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What’s new at First Nations with Schools Collective

Barbara Nolan teaching

'We have to create speakers'

How can First Nations integrate full language immersion into daily schooling? We asked Barbara Nolan, Language Commissioner for Anishinabek Nation.

What it means to be a First Nation education system

  • Customs, traditions and beliefs at the centre
  • Built from community strengths and locally driven
  • Focused on land, environment and cultural identity
  • Implementing the United Nations Declaration on the RIghts of Indigenous Peoples Article 14
The First Nations with Schools Collective (FNWSC) is made up of eight member First Nations — two of the great Haudenosaunee People and six of the great Anishinaabek People — working together to achieve full First Nation jurisdiction over education in First Nation communities.

Leadership Profile

Leslee arms crossed
Our Structural Readiness Coordinator, Leslee White-Eye, is a committed champion of Indigenous education.  As a former teacher at her home community school and education officer for the Ontario Ministry of Education she understands the challenges First Nation schools face and how culture-based education programming and nation-to-nation negotiations can lead to success.  

Leslee is also the former chief of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. 
Tell us about your work in First Nations’ education:
I am so blessed to work with both of my passions — governance and education — here at the Collective.  I have the privilege of organizing and managing the Collective tables so they can work together on like-minded goals.  
What’s one thing that stands out for you about the Collective?
It’s pretty exciting to see the level of engagement among the education leaders on topics of jurisdiction, law-making and federal government funding policy. Often, it's the only dedicated and sustained space for leaders to connect the day-to-day education activities to education jurisdiction. Collective delegates all come here knowing they inherently have the right to education.  
Can you share one way a challenge is being addressed by FNWSC in education system change?
The collaborative and thought-provoking nature of the collective discussion tables allows for time to pause and reflect.  Participants control the timelines of their collective action.  When things need to slow down and more time with community team members is needed then it slows down.  
What is one of the highlights of your career as a First Nations education leader?
Being able to help communities affirm a position of sovereignty over their own affairs in education. Over five years of coordinating active delegate engagement in jurisdiction matters has been the highlight of my career by far.   I always felt that change happens in communities by communities and the FNWSC has proven this to me over and over again. 

FNWSC At A Glance

  • 8 Participating First Nations
  • 9 Education systems with schools
  • 5 Strategic partnerships
  • 6 Curriculum Writers' forums in 2020-21
  • 7 Elder forums in 2020-21
  • 9 Community Consultations to Date