In 1997, nine of Nova Scotia’s 13 First Nations and the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed An Agreement With Respect to Education in Nova Scotia. One year later, Mi’kmaq Education Acts in Parliament and in the Nova Scotia Legislature confirmed the arrangement. The Agreement and legislation provide participating First Nations with jurisdiction over primary, elementary and secondary education on reserve and with management responsibilities for the Department’s post-secondary education programs. The Agreement stipulates that the primary, elementary, secondary programs and services offered shall be comparable to those provided by other education systems in Canada so as to permit the transfer of students between education systems without academic penalty.
Bear River, Paqtnkek and Glooscap First Nations joined the Agreement in 2005, 2011 and 2014 respectively Nearly 3,000 Kindergarten to grade 12 students living on-reserve and approximately 500 post secondary students are served by the Agreement annually – Canada’s only self-government agreement in education.
Under the Agreement, Mi’kmaq First Nations and Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey (a corporate body whose objective is the support of the delivery of education programs and services among participating First Nations) support the delivery of education programs and services to nine elementary and secondary schools and Kindergarten programs in four communities' in collaboration with the participating First Nation communities. As well, the Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey manages special education services, post-secondary education programming, education capital funding, school technology services, and tuition agreements with Nova Scotia’s Department of Education and Early Childhood Development for those on-reserve students who attend provincial schools (547 students in 2012 or 18%).
Governed by a Board of Directors comprised of the Chiefs of participating First Nations, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey is a dynamic organization that represents the educational interests of member First Nations and provides leadership, research, advice and support in their delivery of education programs and services. Since 2008, Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey and the Nova Scotia Department of Education and Early Childhood Development have operated under an Education Services Agreement aimed at enhancing collaboration and coordination and providing for the seamless transition of students between education systems.
While Mi’kmaq schools follow provincial policies and practices respecting the delivery of education including curricula, the school calendar and student assessment regime, an important distinction is the emphasis placed upon the infusion and incorporation of Mi’kmaq language, heritage and culture programming.
Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey reported a high school graduation rate of 87.7% in the 2012-2013 school year.
In October 2011, a new five-year funding agreement took effect. For the 2013-2014 fiscal year the federal transfer in support of the Agreement was approximately $47.2 million. The current agreement will expire March 31, 2016.
For more information on the Mi’kmaq Education Agreement including the latest Annual Report visit Mi’kmaw Kina’matnewey’s website.