Government of Canada Announces Support for Nine Innovative Projects to Build First Nation Schools

Government of Canada Announces Support for Nine Innovative Projects to Build First Nation Schools

Ottawa, ON – The Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, Carolyn Bennett, today announced funding support for nine innovative projects that will result in new school facilities for over 20 First Nations communities across the country. The Minister made the announcement during her address to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National First Nation Directors of Education Forum, where First Nation Directors of Education gathered to share successful education practices and discuss approaches to move forward on First Nation education.

An essential component of a student’s education is having a safe and healthy place in which to learn. The First Nation-led school facility projects, supported by the Innovation Fund component of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC)’s Education Infrastructure Fund, will use innovative approaches to build school facilities that meet the needs of First Nation students on reserves. By using innovative approaches to school construction, such as bundling projects and contracts, employing modular and pre-fabricated construction and using alternative financing measures, the projects will enable more First Nation students to benefit from new or renovated school facilities.

The new Innovation Fund recipients are: Squiala First Nation (British Columbia), Old Massett Village Council First Nation (British Columbia), Westbank First Nation (British Columbia), Adams Lake Indian Band (British Columbia), Blood Tribe/Kainai (Alberta), Meadow Lake Tribal Council (Saskatchewan), Fisher River First Nation (Manitoba), Southeast Resource Development Council Corp (Manitoba) and the Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-Utenam First Nation (Quebec).


“One of the most important responsibilities I have as Minister is to support First Nations to do what they know is best to ensure the success of their children. Improving education infrastructure in First Nations communities is essential for First Nations students to a quality education. These nine First Nation-led school facility projects exemplify innovation in meeting the needs of their students. I look forward to working with these and other groups to make real change in education outcomes in all First Nations communities across the country.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.,
Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs

“The Adams Lake Indian Band is excited to be a recipient of the Innovation Fund for education construction. This funding will be used to expand the Chief Atahm School, one of the most successful immersion schools in the province. This funding in design-partnership with the Westbank First Nation will provide much needed space for additional students. The Chief Atahm school is instrumental in preserving the Secwepemc language and culture for future generations and our community looks forward to starting this important project. Kucstsemc.”

Chief Robin Billy,
Adams Lake Indian Band

“Our thanks to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada for triggering the ability to leverage the entire capital cost of our project. This fund provides the leverage Old Massett Village Council needed to pull this project together as a whole. The Innovation Fund continues our investment in our language and culture for the benefit of our community.”

Chief Ken Rea,
Old Massett Village Council

“Westbank First Nation is excited to be working jointly with the Adams Lake Indian Band on School Expansions of similar designs to enhance the educational and cultural learning experiences of our communities. The additional classrooms, multi-purpose areas and features that this project supports will allow for increased enrollment and an improved learning environment to better meet the needs of our growing community.”

Chief Robert Louie,
Westbank First Nation

“The building of a new school is crucial to the development of our young people, providing them with the foundation they will need to pursue their dreams. Although we still have work to do to raise the necessary funds for this crucial project for our community, today’s announcement represents a vital first step, and we are grateful to the Government of Canada for the lead role it is playing.”

Chief David Crate,
Fisher River First Nation

“The Board of Directors are elated for the contribution of funding. This completes the puzzle to move forward with the construction of the Southeast Collegiate.”

Chief Jim Bear,
Brokenhead Ojibway Nation, on behalf of SRDCC

Quick facts

  • INAC‘s Innovation Fund provides funding to First Nation communities to build school facilities that are innovative, promote educational reform, and use industry best practices.
  • Created in 2012 as an additional source of funding under the Education Infrastructure Fund, the Innovation Fund includes a total investment of $50 million over six years commencing in 2016-2017.
  • Recipients are eligible for a maximum $10 million investment from the fund.
  • Other school projects across the country are considered under the core Education Infrastructure Fund.
  • Funded in part by INAC‘s New Paths for Education Program, the National First Nation Directors of Education Forum is the first opportunity for First Nation Directors of Education from across the country to gather and share successful practices in education amongst themselves and with partners from government and the private sector.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada