Government of Canada and Government of the Northwest Territories working together to support post-secondary education in the territory

News release

July 13, 2021 — Ottawa, Ontario — Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

The Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories are working together to help create new opportunities in the Northwest Territories and provide greater access to quality education, build healthier communities and support a sustainable and dynamic economy.

Today, the Minister of Northern Affairs, the Honourable Daniel Vandal, Northwest Territories' Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, the Honourable R. J. Simpson, and Aurora College President Andy Bevan highlighted new investments in post-secondary education in the territory, with an emphasis on key priorities such as access to higher education and the expansion of the post-secondary education system in the Northwest Territories.

To further increase access to quality post-secondary education in Canada's North, Minister Vandal highlighted that Budget 2021 proposes to provide $8 million over two years, starting in 2021–22, to the Government of the Northwest Territories to support the transformation of Aurora College to a polytechnic university. As well as increasing access to post-secondary education for Northerners, this transformation will also advance the growth of research beneficial to Arctic and Northern communities and people, and all Canadians.

This funding is in addition to Budget 2019 measures to strengthen Arctic and Northern communities, including $40 million over five years to support options for post-secondary education in the North. This funding included $1 million to establish a task force to study post-secondary education in the Arctic and the North; $26 million for a new science building in support of Yukon College's transition to Yukon University; and $13 million to help the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning meet the high demand for their Indigenous-led, northern land-based learning.

The need to address education in the North was identified by co-development partners in Canada's Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, launched in 2019, as part of its goal of supporting resilient and healthy northern and Indigenous People.

Supporting post-secondary education in the Northwest Territories will benefit all northern residents, especially youth and Indigenous Peoples, who represent over 50% of the population in the territory. Investments in education also benefit lower-income individuals and families through increased access to degree programs along with applied training in order to obtain skills needed in the workforce.


"Every Canadian should have the opportunity to continue their education, learn new skills and have the same chance at success in life. Our government will continue to work with territorial, provincial and Indigenous partners to address issues that matter to them, including better, more relevant and accessible education and increased opportunities for skills development, practical learning and access to local high-quality higher education. The transformation of Aurora College will allow it to become the institution that's needed to underpin social and economic development and prepare Northerners for jobs in their communities or wherever they wish to go. Access to education will help develop the skills needed for today's jobs and it will promote innovation and economic growth. Together with partners, we are creating an environment in the Arctic and North in which Canadians have access to the education needed to help them succeed."

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs 

"We are pleased to be working with the Government of Canada to strengthen the post-secondary education system in the Northwest Territories. The $8 million federal investment will support planning and development of the polytechnic university, but also affirms the importance of our continued work in this area. The transformation of Aurora College into a polytechnic university will bring wide-ranging economic and social benefits to generations of Northerners. It will also help ensure local businesses and industry can fill current and future in-demand jobs. Through the establishment of a polytechnic university, we will be increasing access to quality programming for residents in all communities, providing more equitable opportunities for Northerners to reach their education and career goals."

The Honourable R. J. Simpson
Minister of Education, Culture and Employment in the Government of the Northwest Territories 

"Co-investment by the Government of Canada in the planning and development of a Northern polytechnic university is critical to our success. Federal co-investment continues to be key to maintaining quality teaching and research programs in the North, and helping to ensure those programs can be tailored to Northern priorities. We look forward to working with both the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada to increase access to quality post-secondary education opportunities for Northerners and to build capacity for Northern research."

Andy Bevan
President of Aurora College 

"Improving access to high quality post-secondary education in the Northwest Territories is key to ensuring a brighter future for our youth. Through the Government of Canada's investments, we are working with our local partners to help make this future a reality."

Michael McLeod
Member of Parliament for Northwest Territories

Quick facts

  • Budget 2021 includes $101.4 billion over three years in proposed investments as part of the Government of Canada's growth plan that will create good jobs and support a resilient and inclusive recovery. Key measures include the following:

    • Investing $4.1 billion to help make post-secondary education more affordable and provide direct support to students with the greatest need. This includes doubling the Canada Student Grants for two additional years, waiving interest on federal student loans until March 31, 2023, enhancing repayment assistance so that no person earning $40,000 per year or less will be required to make any payments on their federal student loans, and extending disability supports for recipients of student financial assistance whose disabilities are persistent or prolonged, but not necessarily permanent.
    • $721 million over the next two years to help connect youth and students with employers and provide them with over 100,000 new, quality job opportunities.
    • $708 million over five years, starting in 2021–22, to create at least 85,000 work-integrated learning placements that provide on-the-job learning and provide businesses with support to develop talent and grow.
    • $470 million over three years, beginning in 2021–22, to establish a new Apprenticeship Service that will help 55,000 first-year apprentices in construction and manufacturing Red Seal trades connect with opportunities at small and medium-sized employers, and provide an extra incentive for employers to hire women, racialized Canadians, and persons with disabilities.
    • $150.6 million over two years, starting in 2021–22, to support Indigenous students through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program and the Inuit and Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategies.
    • $26.4 million for 2021–22 to support Indigenous-established post-secondary education institutions and Indigenous-directed community-based programming in adapting and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • $112 million in 2021–22 to support First Nations-led community measures for a safe return to school on reserves. This funding will provide First Nations communities with the flexibility needed to design and implement community-based approaches to prevent, prepare, and respond to the spread of COVID-19 within their communities as schools resume in September 2021.
    • $726 million over five years, starting in 2021–22, and $181.8 million ongoing, to support First Nations partners in adapting elementary and secondary education funding to meet local First Nations' needs, enhancing funding formulas in critical areas such as student transportation, ensuring that funding for First Nations schools remains predictable from year to year, and increasing First Nations control over First Nations education by concluding more Regional Education Agreements.
    • $350 million over five years, starting in 2021–22, to expand access to adult education by supporting First Nations people on reserve who wish to return to high school in their communities and complete their high school education.
    • Closing the gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples; supporting healthy, safe, and prosperous Indigenous communities; and advancing meaningful reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation through an historic investment of over $18 billion.
  • The Government of Canada launched Canada's Arctic and Northern Policy Framework on September 10, 2019. For the first time, the federal government worked collaboratively with Indigenous representatives and six territorial and provincial governments to define and co-develop this long-term vision. 

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Antoine Tremblay
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Daniel Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs

Media Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Christina Carrigan
Manager, Public Affairs and Communication
Education, Culture and Employment
Government of the Northwest Territories
867-767-9352, ext. 71073

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