The Manitoba First Nations School System

MFNSS Purpose: Provide a quality, holistic and culturally relevant education for First Nations students by nurturing each child’s growth and encouraging their development as lifelong learners.

MFNSS Beliefs

We believe in:

  • Ensuring a transformative quality education system founded on First Nations languages, histories and cultures to nurture each child’s identity and growth
  • Recognizing, nurturing and celebrating each child’s unique gifts
  • Supporting respectful, empathetic and successful learners with critical thinking and effective communication skills
  • Providing equitable access to rich learning experiences in a safe, caring and inclusive learning environment
  • Building on a shared vision of our children, Elders, knowledge keepers, families, communities, leaders and staff

Since July 2017, the Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS) has assumed responsibility for administering and managing elementary and secondary education programs and services for 10 First Nations participating in the MFNSS. It is the first of its kind in Canada – a First Nations-designed school system, with funding comparable to provincial school divisions.

The MFNSS, formerly known as the Partnership Transition Initiative (PTI), is a First Nations-led strategy for a culturally relevant, high-quality education system similar to a school district or division. The MFNSS supports First Nations schools to improve the quality and relevance of education, improve academic standards, and increase student outcomes, including retention, completion and graduation rates.

The Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre (MFNERC), in partnership with First Nations, established the MFNSS to address the needs of First Nations students consistent with its mandate from Manitoba First Nations leaders through the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

In December 2016, the Education Governance Agreement signed between MFNERC and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) authorized the MFNSS to provide education programming and enhanced supports for over 2,000 First Nations students in Manitoba. Other First Nations may choose to join the system in the future.

Each of the participating First Nations has signed on for an initial five-year term.

First Nations that have joined include:

This agreement is consistent with the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada’s Calls to Action for:

  • Comparable education funding
  • Support for language programming
  • Funding to support the improvement of student success rates
  • Development of culturally-appropriate curricula
  • Support for parental involvement

It also reflects aspects of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by supporting the development of a new school system under First Nations management and control; for example:

  • Article 14.1. Right to establish and control educational systems and institutions providing education in their own languages in a manner appropriate to their cultural methods of teaching and learning.
  • Article 15.1. Right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education.

Expected benefits of participating in the MFNSS include:

  • More predictable, stable and sustainable funding to enable long-term planning;
  • Enhanced quality of education;
  • Competitive salaries for education staff – principals, teachers, other staff;
  • More funding for school resources and ensuring that schools meet health and safety standards;
  • More curriculum development/adaptation to meet the needs of First Nations learners; and
  • Supports for high school students to meet their academic goals.



MFNSS Priorities/Goals for 2017 to 2020

We will provide:

  1. A culturally responsive environment
  2. An environment that promotes health, safety, and well-being
  3. An inclusive and respectful learning community that is child-centred, responsive and relevant
  4. A Supportive setting for student learning and engagement through improved instruction and assessment practices


1.   A culturally responsive environment

  • Incorporate language and culture in all school programs
  • Support a positive cultural identity
  • Implement and develop programming that includes traditional knowledge, histories, values, and cultural perspectives
  • Support increased knowledge and awareness in all students of where they came from, who they are, and who they can become.

2. An environment that promotes health, safety and well-being

  • Ensure buildings meet all safety requirements
  • Ensure school grounds meet all safety requirements
  • Ensure the transportation program meets all safety requirements
  • Establish quality programs that address physical health and well-being

3. An inclusive and respectful learning community that is child-centred, responsive and relevant

  • Create a positive emotional climate that ensures every child feels that they belong
  • Establish and maintain healthy, nurturing relationships and partnerships
  • Affirm and acknowledge the unique identities found in our learning environments
  • Provide opportunities for education outside of school in order to create connections to the larger communities on an ongoing basis

4. A supportive setting for student learning and engagement through improved instruction and assessment practices

Student Learning:

  • Use a child-centred approach that values and supports diverse learning needs
  • Ensure early intervention planning and transition practices are implemented from school entry to exit
  • Use standards and benchmarks to ensure academic growth, improved outcomes and success in all areas
  • Provide learning experiences that are authentic and engaging which include, but are not limited to, land-based education

Staff Learning:

  • Develop professional learning communities to build a collaborative, professional culture
  • Build the existing structure of teacher pedagogy and teaching practices
  • Ensure administrative practices are relevant, responsive and respectful
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    Unit 2 -1100 Waverley St
    Winnipeg, MB R3T 3X9
    Phone: 204-594-1290 ext. 2243
    Fax: 204-942-2490

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