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Research & Innovation

The Collective has a strong partnership with Western University’s Faculty of Education through the leadership of Dr. Brent Debassige, who is an Ojibwe-Anishinaabe and member of the Caribou Clan and former Director of Indigenous Education and an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Western University. 


Through that partnership, FNWSC has embarked on the projects listed below. Click the arrows for details.


Project: To explore how education staff in First Nation communities integrated place-based Indigenous knowledge and/or land-based education into local First Nations elementary school classrooms, curriculums and pedagogies.

Methodology: Using a case-study methodology with a focus on educational practice, the research explores the perspectives of community educational leaders’ (including education directors, principals, teachers, Elders, traditional knowledge keepers, youth leaders and others) when it comes to priorities around formal and informal education as well as lifelong learning in their community. Our proposed data collection methods include facilitating conversational interviews and research circles/focus groups, reviewing documents, and, when possible, recording firsthand accounts.

This study aims to build on the findings from community engagement sessions and input from FNWSC strategic planning sessions, as well as additional documentation from FNWSC participating members.

Purpose: The findings from this study are expected to provide research-based evidence to support the FNWSC and its members in developing and expanding on integrating place-based Indigenous knowledge and land-based pedagogies and curriculums in local education systems. Moreover, the research publications will provide evidence to support land-based and Indigenous knowledge-centred educational initiatives at the local level. 

Project: The Research Circle is a discourse space between researchers, scholars, educators and First Nation community members focused on First Nation education jurisdiction issues, challenges and opportunities.


Methodology: The Research Circle is undertaking a writing project to tell their stories, and reflect on their experiences as scholars who engaged in inquiries confronting First Nation community education leaders undertaking education jurisdiction work.

First Nations Community of Inquiry & Praxis (FNCIP) participants who joined the research circle between June 2020 and March 2021 are invited to participate in this next publishing phase.

Background: The FNWSC began exploring research and innovation outcomes in October 2017 because it was clear that forming strategic partnerships with organizations — including research institutions such as universities — to advance First Nations’ education goals was a common vision among FNWSC member communities. 

The FNWSC follows the United Nations Development Programme model which believes community development is driven by community people for themselves. Thus, FNWSC community leaders forwarded names of scholars to be invited to discuss FNWSC topics of inquiry. It was a way for communities to involve their members in education jurisdiction work while gaining valuable insight on topics.

This project’s activities include working with the FNWSC and Research Circle to identify each community’s research protocol, record of educational research, and educational capacity and needs.




Project: This project values Indigenous knowledge, values and principles in curriculum development.


Methodology: Engaging Elders. FNWSC actively seeks Elders’ stories about how learning takes place culturally. Drawing on these stories, curriculum writers reflect on their own curriculum development practices and challenge views of how learning is structured. The Ontario curriculum is not the starting point for this curriculum framing project.


Purpose: This process is an emergent one with the goal of producing a framework for Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee culturally based curriculum thinking.


The final deliverable during this first phase of the work will be a draft curriculum framework paper.


Featured Presenters: FNWSC kicked off the curriculum framing project with a presentation by Onaubinsay Jim Dumont on March 9, 2021. He provided his thoughts on the road ahead, starting places to begin our curriculum thinking journey and key principles and values that must remain central to the process.





Project: This project provides a framework and model from which to define success by participating nations of the Collective.


Purpose: The purpose of this project is to develop, in consultation with participating FNWSC communities, a First Nation education data infrastructure blueprint for the FNWSC that can be adapted and used by its member First Nations.


Methodology: Throughout this project, the project leads, Ashley Sisco & Associates Consulting have taken a community-based partnership approach. The project leads have worked closely with member communities to co-develop a framework that reflects what was shared and then supplemented this input with research and engagements with external First Nation data practitioners.


Status: Final Report under Review by the Collective


For information, contact Leslee White-Eye, Structural Readiness Coordinator for FNWSC at [email protected] 


Project: This project provides training sessions to FNWSC delegates about Human Rights law. 


Purpose: 1)    Develop a focus for the FNWSC around Canadian and international legal means and forums for diplomatic and advocacy efforts to contest colonial restrictions on First Nations’ education.  
2)    Expand FNWSC participant knowledge around Canadian and international human rights policy as well as Indigenous rights. 
3)    Increase unity and capacity among FNWSC participant communities to pursue short- to long-range political advocacy strategies for the realization of education equality. 



This project involved the development and coordination of human rights training sessions led by experts in the field.  Two sessions were held in early 2021 and two sessions are planned for late November and early December. Dialogues held during session with inform a Human Rights Options Paper.


Status: Final Report in final drafting stage

For information, contact Leslee White-Eye, Structural Readiness Coordinator for FNWSC at [email protected] 



For information, contact Leslee White-Eye, Structural Readiness Coordinator for FNWSC at [email protected] 


For information, contact Leslee White-Eye, Structural Readiness Coordinator for FNWSC at [email protected]