Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve  

The Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve (AHSOR) program helps enhance child development and school readiness for children living in First Nations communities on reserve.

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About the program

AHSOR funds activities that support learning and developmental needs of young children living in First Nations communities.

The program focuses on:

  • education
  • health promotion
  • culture and language
  • nutrition
  • social support
  • parental family involvement

Children in AHSOR take part in activities that encourage a love of learning, establish positive health and wellness habits, and boost children’s self-confidence through connections to their language, community and culture. These are crucial elements of resilience and their presence improves Indigenous peoples’ ability to thrive and be healthy.

AHSOR also supports parents, families and community members in being the most important teachers in a child's life. It builds relationships with other community programs and services so that children get the best care.

In the 2016 to 2017 reporting year, more than 19,000 First Nations children on reserve participated in an AHSOR program, not including British Columbia.

Who can apply

Funding is provided to First Nations communities, organizations and other service providers who are responsible for providing this program to their eligible on-reserve members.


There are no deadlines for this program; individuals can apply at any time.

How to apply?

The application process depends on where you live. Contact your community's band office or call 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232). Ask for the Aboriginal Head Start on Reserve program contact in your region.

Child development programs

The Government of Canada plays a large role in Indigenous early learning and child care, both on and off reserve, using 3 main programs:

  • Indigenous Services Canada’s AHSOR, which serves First Nations children and their families on reserve
  • Public Health Agency of Canada’s Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities (AHSUNC), which serves First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and their families living in urban and northern communities
  • Employment and Social Development Canada’s First Nations and Inuit Child Care Initiative (FNICCI), which delivers child care services to First Nations on reserve and Inuit families

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