Population: 1,400,685
Number of K-12 Schools: 562
Number of K-12 Students: ~107,000Number of K-12 E-Learning Programs: 5
Number of K-12 E-Learning Students: 1,927

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

Governance and Regulation

Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) defines distance or online learning education and services as necessary components of Education in general. Prior to 2014-2015 INAC Regional Offices worked directly with e-learning institutions to fund attending First Nations students living on reserve. As of 2015-2016, for online courses to be funded by INAC funds, online students attending K-12 have to be registered as a student on a First Nation’s school nominal roll.

Since 2015-2016, INAC’s policy direction had changed the funding approach, which now transfers funding directly to First Nations communities and their education service providers. This policy allowed those communities to determine how to support, manage and finance First Nation culturally appropriate online education programs and services that best meet the needs of its students from their communities and also meet provincial program credit standards. Furthermore, to be eligible to receive INAC Elementary and Secondary Education Program funding, e-learning institutions must be recognized by a province as a certified elementary or secondary institution within the context of that province’s jurisdiction.

New funding agreements between First Nation communities and their education service providers now contain instructions on providing student support services, determining eligible activities and expenditures, school administration and operation and maintenance expenses. This is described in the INAC’s Elementary and Secondary Education Program National Guidelines.

E-learning service providers are also encouraged to engage First Nations to discuss the possibility of seeking funding under INAC’s proposal-based education programs, which are intended to complement the core Elementary and Secondary Education Program. For example, e-learning institutions, in partnership with First Nations, may submit New Paths for Education Program proposals for e-learning activities that support eligible program activities to improve school effectiveness. Also, e-learning institutions can partner with eligible First Nation Student Success Program aggregate recipients, which make decisions on engaging service providers as a means of implementing learning strategies described in school success plans funded through the program.

It should be noted that, while INAC is one of the federal government departments responsible for meeting the Government of Canada’s legal obligations and commitments to Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), and for fulfilling the federal government’s constitutional responsibilities in the North, the department has now been divided into: the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, and the Department of Indigenous Services Canada (DISC). DISC is now comprised of: 1) First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, 2) Education, 3) Social Development Programs, 4) Partnerships (ESDPP), and 5) Regional Operations (RO) sectors of the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. This structure should position the programs and services to more effectively collaborate when beginning to develop and deliver holistic approaches to social, healthcare and infrastructure services to Indigenous partners.

K-12 Distance and Online Learning Activity

INAC has a tracking system that collects school data activities and expenditures from its First Nation communities and education service providers. Based on INAC’s First Nation school nominal rolls from the 2016-17 school year, there were:

  • 1,211 students registered for distance education;
  • 37 students registered for home schooled (online sourced); and
  • 41 students registered for virtual (Internet).

At present there are a total of five K-12 distance education programs designated as First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit programs. Three of these are located in Ontario (i.e., Keewaytinook Internet High School, Wahsa Distance Education Centre, and Indspire’s K-12 Institute), 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 other reasons—they have not yet established distance education programs. It should be noted that during the time that the annual State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada reports have been issued, there have been two First Nations, Métis and/or Inuit programs that ceased operations. The first was the Credenda Virtual High School that ceased operations following the 2012-13 school year, while the second was the Gai hon nya ni: the Amos Key Jr. E~Learning Institute that closed around 2014-15.

K-12 Blended Learning Activity

INAC sees blended learning classes as those where students are physically separated from their teacher and classmates but have access to the support of classroom teacher with the flexibility of having e-learning options for those living in a different community.

INAC’s First Nation school nominal rolls collects two indicators related to blended learning:

  • classroom and distance education; and
  • classroom and virtual (Internet).

Based on INAC’s First Nation school nominal rolls from the 2016-17 school year:

  • 245 students registered for blended: classroom and distance education; and
  • 393 students registered for blended: classroom and virtual (Internet).

As such, there were a total of 638 students engaged in blended learning

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
2017-18 Online
Blended
455 17 full time 70
SCcyber E-learning Community (Alberta)
http://www.sccyber.net
2017-18 Online 300 1 full time
7 part time
100+
Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate (Manitoba)
http://www.wapaskwa.ca
2017-18 Online 646 7 full time
1 part time
32

* 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.