Assembly of First Nations and Government of Canada announce updated school design standards

News release

February 22, 2022 — Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario — Indigenous Services Canada 

Schools are often the cornerstone of First Nations communities, offering students a safe place to learn and grow, and providing a gathering place for community events and cultural activities.

Working in partnership, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) are pleased to formally share the co-developed improvements to the School Space Accommodation Standards which came into effect in April 2021. These updates increase on-reserve school sizes and include space to support full-day kindergarten, language and culture rooms, knowledge keeper offices, counselling rooms, and outdoor learning spaces. First Nations will have greater flexibility to design new and renovated schools that can better accommodate students' needs and reflect the unique culture and traditions of their communities. 

The updated standards apply to all new schools and major renovation projects that are funded by Indigenous Services Canada. The existing funding allocation procedures (e.g., the First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plan) and available level of funding will continue to apply for major capital school infrastructure projects and renovations. First Nations are encouraged to review their infrastructure needs, update their community-level First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plan and submit it to their regional ISC office.


"I commend the work of AFN Regional Chief Cameron and the entire AFN education committee for their work in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada. As new schools are built and existing schools are renovated, the updated School Space Accommodation Standards will ensure that students in First Nations communities have access to the supports they need to learn and grow, while also providing First Nations with greater flexibility to design schools that best meet their needs."

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

"These new standards, designed by First Nations for First Nations place our people as global leaders in Indigenous-led school building standards. As a result of First Nations leadership and collaborative efforts with the federal government, First Nations now have the opportunity to lead the design of the spaces most compatible with our ways of learning. These new standards are an important step toward our continued advocacy to ensure appropriate and sustained investments to address long-standing concerns with access to safe schools and to build new schools on-reserve. Inherent and treaty right to Education and asserting First Nations jurisdiction are our top priorities."

Regional Chief Bobby Cameron, Saskatchewan
Chair, Chiefs Committee on Education 
Assembly of First Nations

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada has committed $2.34 billion up to 2024–2025 in First Nations school facilities, which includes $860.5 million from Budget 2021.

  • Since late 2015 and as of September 30, 2021, Indigenous Services Canada has invested more than $1.28 billion to support 209 school-related infrastructure projects, 150 of which are complete.

  • While work remains in progress, in total these investments will result in the construction of 64 new schools (40 currently complete) and renovations or upgrades to 94 existing schools (76 currently complete), benefiting 33,000 students.

Associated links


For more information, media may contact:

Alison Murphy
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

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