Population: 1,400,685
Number of K-12 Schools: 435
Number of K-12 Students: ~108,000
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Number of K-12 E-Learning Programs: 3
Number of K-12 E-Learning Students: 1,390

Note that these profiles are taken from the most recent edition of the report, please review additional annual profiles below.

K-12 E-Learning Programs

At present there are a total of three K-12 distance education programs designated as First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit programs. One of these is located in Ontario (i.e., Keewaytinook Internet High School), one in Manitoba (i.e., Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate), and one in Alberta (i.e., SCcyber E-learning Community). There are other First Nations, Métis and Inuit organizations that have been exploring the adoption of K-12 distance education. However, for a variety of reasons – lack of bandwidth or connectivity, lack of community buy-in, lack of expertise for implementation and others—they have not yet established distance education programs.

Over the past three years, two First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit programs have ceased operations (i.e., Credenda Virtual High School following the 2012-13 school year and Gai hon nya ni: the Amos Key Jr. E~Learning Institute around 2014-15).

Governance and Regulation

Approximately 60% of First Nations students attend schools on reserve. In support of these students Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) provides funding support directly to Band Councils and First Nations education organizations. First Nations, or their respective regional organizations, have responsibility for managing and delivering education programs and services in band-operated schools on reserve. For students who live on reserve but attend provincial schools off-reserve, INAC pays the tuition that the applicable province charges for non-Aboriginal students. This is paid to the First Nation in question or directly to the provincial Ministry of Education depending on the agreement in place.

INAC requires that each of the educational programs (including K-12 distance education) work with the individual Ministry of Education in the province or territory in which they operate in order to gain accreditation. The accreditation process involves a validation that the education program is using provincial curriculum, which allows the program to grant provincial credit. As Ministries cannot fund enrollment in federal education programs, the First Nations education programs (including K-12 distance education programs) must also enter into agreements with individual school districts/divisions to serve off-reserve students.

As a part of the most recent budget, INAC  invested $2.6 billion over four years to support primary and secondary education on reserve, including funding to address immediate financial pressures and to keep pace with growth in the medium term (such as population and cost for services pressures).  The investment also included targeted funding for special needs education, language and culture, literacy and numeracy, and funding to support the transformation of First Nation education and the establishment of new First Nation-controlled systems.  INAC continues to engage with First Nations and education leadership to determine how best to gather input on how to proceed on the future of First Nations education.  E-learning and other alternatives to traditional classrooms can certainly be a key area of discussion, both as a means of meeting individual student needs and incorporating these approaches into new education systems.

Previous Provincial Profiles

History of K-12 E-Learning

The history of K-12 e-learning focused specifically upon First Nations, Métis and Inuit (FNMI) populations is inextricably connected to developments at the provincial level.  For example, recognizing the need for a community-based secondary option that would help deal with issues students faced when they had to leave their communities, sometimes as early as thirteen years of age, the Keewaytinook Okimakanak – a chiefs’ council the Nishnawbe Aski Nation  territory in Northwestern Ontario -established the Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS) as a pilot project in 1999.  The project initially focused on course offerings in grades 9 and 10, but in 2006 expanded their offerings to include grades 9 through 12 that lead to an Ontario Secondary School Diploma.  The program currently operates as a regulated private secondary school in the province.

In 2000, the Sunchild E-learning Community (now SCcyber E-learning Community) was established in Alberta as an attempt to address the poor graduation rates of Aboriginal students.  Similarly, in 2004, the Prince Albert Grand Council in Saskatchewan outlined a similar concern and created Credenda Virtual High School and College (which eventually would become a not-for-profit, registered charitable First Nations and Métis educational institution).  More recently, the Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate was established by the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre in 2009 with funding under the federal New Paths for Education program.  Finally, based on the SCcyber E-learning Community model, the Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board Inc. established the Gai hon nya ni: the Amos Key Jr. E~Learning Institute as a regulated private secondary school in Ontario for the 2010-11 school year (although this program ceased operations around 2014-15).

In 2013, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (now Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada) made the decision to no longer enter into service agreements directly with e-learning programs. Instead funding would be provided to the regional authorities (i.e., First Nations) to make the decisions on the nature of educational opportunities that should be funded within their jurisdiction. While this change had little impact on e-learning programs such as KiHS and Amos Key, which were funded through a nominal roll process by the Ontario Ministry of Education, it did cause the closure of the Credenda Virtual High School in Saskatchewan following the 2012-13 school year due to a lack of funding.

Also, in 2013 Manitoba Education began investigating options to support the formation of virtual collegiate(s) that would be granted Ministry identification codes and able to offer distance education throughout the province.  The first of these virtual collegiates was the Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate, after Manitoba Education and the Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a three-year pilot collaboration beginning in the 2014-15 school year.

Vignettes

Brief Issue Papers

Individual Program Survey Responses

Program Most recent response  Medium  # of Students  # of Teachers  # of Courses 
Credenda Virtual High School (Saskatchewan)* 2012-13 Online 478 6 full time
3 part time
32
Gai Hon Nya Ni: The Amos Key Jr. E-Learning Foundation/Institute (Ontario)** 2012-13 Online 75 4 full time
2 part time
36
Keewaytinook Internet High School (Ontario)
http://www.kihs.knet.ca
2016-17 Online
Blended
230 14 full time 70
SCcyber E-learning Community (Alberta)
http://www.sccyber.net
2016-17 Online
Blended
325
50
1 full time
6 part time
100
Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate (Manitoba)
http://www.wapaskwa.ca
2015-16 Online 390 7 full time 33

* Credenda Virtual High School ceased operations following the 2012-13 school year.
** Gai Hon Nya Ni: The Amos Key Jr. E-Learning Foundation/Institute ceased operations around 2014-15.

To update this information, visit http://tinyurl.com/sotn-program-survey

Inter-provincial and International

AANDC requires that online courses be taught by a teacher that is provincially/territorially certified and that online programs be accredited by the province/territory that they are located in to be eligible for First Nations students.  AANDC does not have any policy on the transfer of online credits taken from programs in jurisdictions other than the one that the student resides in, and defers to the ministry guidelines for the provincial/territorial in which the student resides.  However, AANDC does recommend that individual First Nations consult with their provincial/territorial Ministry of Education to determine equivalency prior to enrolling the student.