What is the Manitoba First Nations School System?

The Manitoba First Nations School System (MFNSS), formerly known as the Partnership Transition Initiative (PTI), is a First Nations-led strategy to create a new education system similar to a school district or division. The purpose of the MFNSS is to establish a strong system that supports First Nations schools, improves the quality and relevance of education, improves academic standards, and increases student outcomes, including retention, completion and graduation rates

Which First Nations have joined the MFNSS?

The following First Nations are part of the MFNSS:

  1. Bloodvein First Nation
  2. Brokenhead Ojibway Nation
  3. Dakota Plains First Nation
  4. Fox Lake Cree Nation
  5. Keeseekoowenin Ojibway First Nation
  6. Lake Manitoba First Nation
  7. Lake St. Martin First Nation
  8. Pinaymootang First Nation
  9. Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation
  10. York Factory First Nation

Several other First Nations have expressed an interest in joining the MFNSS

What components of education does the MFNSS administer?

The MFNSS administers and manages elementary and secondary (K4-12) education programs, services, and funding for participating First Nations.

The K4-12 education programs and services include the following:

  • Instructional services (including tuition)
  • Student support services (including transportation, Private Home Placement supports)
  • Operation and maintenance of school facilities
  • Elementary and secondary education-related band employee benefits
  • First Nations Student Success Program
  • New Paths
  • High Cost Special Education Program  

Are all education services administered by the MFNSS?

Not all education services are administered by the MFNSS. Post-secondary services and early childhood programs (e.g., Head Starts, daycares, etc.) continue to be administered by the First Nation

What are the benefits of joining the MFNSS?

The benefits of joining the MFNSS include the following:

  • Enhanced quality and relevance of education with additional programming supports;
  • Greater flexibility in the way programs are delivered to ensure high standards that improve student outcomes;
  • Increased resources for First Nations language and culture programming;
  • Extensive technology support ensuring the majority of students can achieve outcomes of the highest standards;
  • A full range of learning resources and counselling services;
  • Ability to attract and retain staff, share resources, and provide students with access to a wide range of opportunities;
  • Specialized personnel including school psychologists, speech/language pathologists, audiologists, and programming facilitators;
  • Opportunities to provide specialized programs such as Reading Recovery, music and other programs;
  • Enhanced capacity to meet school facility and education resource needs;
  • Advanced professional development opportunities and increased teacher mobility such as cross-mentoring and interchanges;
  • Opportunity for regional Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) for the purpose of collaborating, networking, building capacity and sharing of materials;
  • Competitive salaries and benefits package;
  • Larger overall budgets, greater financial and programming flexibility;
  • Lower administrative costs through shared corporate functions which means more funding for classroom resources; and,
  • Stable and sustainable comprehensive funding model that is comparable to the funding provided to school divisions in the provincial system.



What is the process to join the MFNSS?

First Nations who are interested in joining the MFNSS may forward a letter of interest to the Executive Director of the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre Inc. (MFNERC). This will initiate the process of consultation and communication. The MFNERC will provide an information session to the First Nation upon the request of its leadership.

The process for joining the MFNSS is:

1)   Submission of a letter of intent with a proposed time frame for implementation.

2)   The First Nation will identify a representative(s) to engage in discussions with MFNERC.

3)   Once an agreement has been reached between the First Nation and MFNERC, the First Nation shall submit a Band Council Resolution (BCR) to both MFNERC and INAC.

4)   During the transition phase, MFNERC will conduct a human resource assessment, school facility audit, and education funding arrangement analysis.

5)   The First Nation will sign a Delegation Agreement with MFNERC and INAC a minimum of nine months prior to the next academic year

What are the eligibility criteria?

Any First Nation that has an on-reserve school and/or a First Nation that administers their school is eligible

What is the opt-in process?

In order to establish stability within the MFNSS, each participating First Nation is required to join for a minimum of five years

What is the opt-out process?

At least 18 months prior to the expiration of the term, the parties involved will meet to discuss the process for non-renewal. This 18-month period will be necessary to ensure a smooth and orderly transition process to minimize the impacts on students and school programming

When did the MFNSS start managing and administering First Nations schools?

The MFNSS was established in July 2017 and has been responsible for managing and administering schools since the beginning of the 2017/18 academic year.



What is the governance structure of the MFNSS?

The MFNSS remains under the umbrella of MFNERC governance structure during Phase One. This will evolve as the system develops.

The MFNSS governance structure includes a Governance Model, which describes the roles and responsibilities of the partners, and the reporting/communication relationships.

What are the roles and responsibilities for the MFNSS?

The MFNSS’s primary responsibility is to ensure students and schools have a high-quality and culturally appropriate education system that reflects the needs of the participating First Nations. The MFNERC Board establishes operating budgets and set policies. The System Director ensures all staff deliver education in a manner consistent with the policy.

The roles and responsibilities in the MFNSS Governance Model are:

MFNERC Board of Directors

The MFNERC Board continues to provide the overall governance and works with the System Director. They also communicate with the Local Advisory Representative(s) (LAR) through their Director of Education.

System Director

The System Director ensures the implementation of the policies and provides strategic direction for achieving goals. The System Director supervises the principals who are responsible for the day-to-day elements of school operations such as supervision of teachers and support staff, ordering equipment and supplies, and establishing timetables and schedules.

Local Advisory Representative(s) (LAR)

Each participating First Nation has the opportunity to identify a Local Advisory Representative(s) (LAR) using their own processes. The LAR is responsible for serving as a liaison with the System Director by providing advice and information.

The LAR may provide advice and information on:

  • Programs, policies, procedures and activities;
  • Human resources;
  • School facility operation and maintenance;
  • Short- and long-term priorities and planning; and
  • Student transportation.

Who creates policies?

The MFNERC Board of Directors sets policy for the MFNSS. The policies include recommended guidelines and processes such as minimum number of days for instructional time, curriculum guidelines, and teacher certification.

How is the MFNSS model used by the federal government?

The federal government has provided resources for development and implementation of the MFNSS model. Other First Nations in Canada are developing their own models based on their own needs.



Will individual locally controlled schools receive provincial comparability in funding?

First Nations that manage and administer their own schools continue to operate based on INAC policies, guidelines and funding regimes for First Nations education. A new regional funding formula is being developed which may lead to enhanced levels of funding.

Does the MFNSS receive increased funding and resources for participating First Nation schools?

The MFNSS funding model provides increased funding and resources for participating First Nations schools. It is based on the provincial model for funding school divisions with enhancements for Private Home Placement, language and culture, transportation and other programs.

The MFNSS is responsible for managing all elementary and secondary education funding, including approving annual budgets and determining funding allocations.

What are the impacts for education funding for First Nations?

The MFNSS funding model has flexible funding for elementary and secondary education programs. This includes band employee benefits, instructional services, student supports, operations and maintenance, minor capital, and programming previously available through the INAC proposal-based programs such as New Paths, High Cost Special Education, and the First Nation Student Success Program.

Do First Nations have a say in how the education money is spent? Where does the money go?

Funding flows directly from INAC to the MFNSS, which administers the education funding for the participating First Nations schools. The local First Nations representatives are responsible for identifying the priorities of each school and seeking meaningful involvement of parents and community in providing input to the MFNSS.

The MFNSS is responsible for incorporating the local priorities as it continues to provide a high-quality education and strategies for school improvement using best practices for effective schools for First Nations students.

The MFNSS considers the local priorities in establishing operating budgets, setting education system policies, making decisions and ensuring that these decisions are implemented by the System Director.



Is there funding for language and culture programming in the MFNSS?

There is funding available for language and culture programming. First Nations have the option of either offering a First Nations language as a subject of instruction or a language of instruction for bilingual and immersion programs.

Do MFNSS schools follow the provincial curriculum?

The MFNSS follows the provincial curriculum while incorporating curriculum that addresses locally-identified needs and language and culture. The MFNSS provides additional supports to foster comparable education outcomes to allow for student transferability and to foster academic success in post-secondary studies.

How does the MFNSS plan to improve academic achievement and how does it measure student success?

The MFNSS is using enhanced supports and a performance measurement strategy to track, monitor and assess academic achievement. The MFNSS has analyzed current academic achievement data and is utilizing early intervention strategies and ongoing assessments to identify appropriate programming to meet student needs.


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