The Arrow

Winter 2017

The Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS)

Introducing the MFNSS.
MFNERC recently signed an historic Education Governance Agreement with the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, for the creation of a Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS). 

The MFNSS is a First Nations-led initiative to create a new, culturally relevant, high-quality education system. Its purpose is to build a strong system that will support First Nations schools, improve the quality and relevance of education, improve academic standards, and improve student outcomes including retention, completion and graduation rates.

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett at the signing ceremony

The Arrow Newsletter recently had a one-on-one with the Director of Systems Development for the MFNSS, Dr. Nora Murdock, who will administer and manage elementary and secondary education programs and services for participating First Nations.

AN: How will the MFNSS be governed? 

NM: The MFNSS governance model was developed based on discussions with participating First Nations. This will evolve as the system develops and once there is sustainable funding in place. The MFNSS will remain under the umbrella of the MFNERC governance structure during Phase One. The MFNERC Board will establish operating budgets and set school division policies.

AN: What is the benefit of having a school system as opposed to what we have now? 

NM: The MFNSS will result in larger overall budgets and greater financial and programming flexibility. Funding per student will increase to approximately $18 000 versus the previous $4000 to $5000. We will have the ability to attract and retain education staff, share resources, and provide students with access to a wide range of opportunities. Our aim is to stem teacher turnover by paying salaries comparable to those of provincial teachers.

AN: Will First Nations have a say in how the education money is spent? 

NM: Funding will flow directly from INAC to the MFNSS, which will administer funds for the participating First Nations schools. The priorities of each First Nation school will be identified by local First Nation representatives who would be responsible for seeking meaningful involvement of parents and community in providing input into education. The MFNSS will ensure that the standards for a high quality education and school improvement will be applied equally to all the schools, as well as ensuring the standards will be administered utilizing best practices for effective schools for First Nations students.

Grand Chiefs at the signing ceremony

AN: Will the MFNSS still follow the provincial curriculum? 

NM: Yes, the MFNSS will follow the provincial curriculum and provide additional supports to foster comparable education outcomes to allow for student transferability and to foster academic success in post-secondary studies. The MFNSS will be responsible for adapting the provincial curriculum to incorporate locally identified needs and priorities including language and culture.

AN: How would we know if the MFNSS is achieving its goals? 

NM: A performance measurement strategy will be used to track, monitor and assess academic achievement. A performance measurement tool will be used to conduct regular assessments and collect the data to measure aggregate student success rates with the enhanced supports provided by the MFNSS.

If you would like more information on the MFNSS please conatct Nora Murdock at 


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