An update on the negotiations from Chief Jim Leonard, Chief Negotiator:

What is the Education Jurisdiction Transfer Initiative?

Since 1995, the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat and the Fort Frances Negotiating Team has been working on the Education Jurisdiction Transfer Initiative with the Participating First Nation’s Leadership and Canada. The goal of this Initiative is to transfer law-making jurisdiction in regards to Education from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the federal government to the seven participating First Nations.

The Education Jurisdiction Transfer Initiative is essentially about control. Under Sections 114-122 of the Indian Act, the Government of Canada has “jurisdiction” over the education of First Nations children, which is handled by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

Under the original Agreement in Principle (AIP), the participating First Nations assert the sacred duty to protect the shared sense of identity, culture and tradition, and that education is a crucial part of that duty.

The objectives of the AIP include the passing of legislation by Canada to allow participating First Nations to make laws over, define curriculum of, and decide how to deliver, education programs and services — to assume “jurisdiction” over education. This gives the participating First Nations the ability to, if needed, build schools, develop separate school systems, or delegate jurisdiction to existing district school boards. Appropriate levels of funding will, ideally, be supplied by Canada to meet the needs of area First Nations students.

When a Final Agreement is reached, it must be ratified (approved) by a majority of votes (and 25% of eligible First Nations members have to vote to ratify), and has to be approved by at least four of the participating First Nations.

It’s also important to know that, at any time up until legislation is passed by the federal government, participating First Nations have the option to opt out of the entire agreement, and continue educating students as the system exists now.

These seven participating First Nations in the Fort Frances Tribal Area have chosen to exercise their Inherent Right (Constitution Act 1982, Section 35), and are applying such Right to Education under the Indian Act, Section 114-122.

Documents produced since the beginning of this Initiative in 1995 include the Framework Agreement, the Agreement in Principle (A.I.P.) and eight (8) Rolling Drafts of the Final Agreement. all of these documents are available to the memberships of the seven participating First Nations, along with additional resource materials, both from the office of the Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat and this site.

Upon reaching a Final Agreement, all seven participating First Nations will be required to vote through a Ratification Process on the acceptance of the Final Agreement. Should the Final Agreement be accepted, the Eight Participating First Nations will then be extracted from Sections 114-122 of the Indian Act, while the financial obligation remains Canada’s responsibility.

Fort Frances Chiefs Secretariat Member First Nations