Three Nations Education Group Inc. has been a partner to the Province of New Brunswick and First Nations Education Initiative Inc. (FNEII) since the inception of the Education Partnerships Program (EPP) in 2008-09.The EPP is a proposal based funding program designed to bring First Nation education organizations into partnerships with the provincial governments in their province of residence. Each year, the partners must work together to identify mutual priorities, build project proposals, and in turn, manage projects found eligible for funding for the fiscal year (April-March).
In the last three years, the average amount of funding awarded to the New Brunswick partnership by the federal government has been approximately $1.5 Million per year.
Many of the projects supported by the EPP have spanned multiple years, expanding in size in many cases from a pilot project in select communities in year one to a presence in several or all communities in following years as the project matures. Importantly, eligible EPP projects can pertain to Band-operated and provincial schools, whereas its sister funding source, the First Nations Student Success Program (FNSSP; see FNSSP under Programs on this website) is completely dedicated to improving the educational outcomes of students in Band-operated Schools. Because of this, and because of the nature of the Partnerships program, which requires a provincial partner participate, EPP projects often focus on building linkages between First Nations communities and schools and the provincial system, easing the transition between the systems, and sharing best practices between the systems to build the capacity of each to work with First Nations students.
However, this can also be seen as a point of contention, as some feel this focus on improving the experience for First Nations students in provincial schools contributes to the motivation of students and families to choose provincial schools over their community operated school.
Additionally, project choices under the EPP can often be limited as the federal government requires all New Brunswick partners to sign a mutual proposal and does not allow for each First Nation education organization to partner with the provincial government on independent proposals (even though this is not a condition for First Nations in other provinces). Because of this, it can often take significant effort for all partners to reach agreement regarding a project proposal, and many ideas are left unexplored when partners disagree. Given the unique conditions in each community and the different values expressed by each organization, the EPP partnership often experiences time of conflict.
Furthermore, the ample proposal writing, revision, quarterly and annual reporting required as part of accessing funding takes substantial time and distracts from First Nations organisations being able to concentrate capacity building in more relevant areas such as student services, curriculum development and relationship building. EPP funding often does not arrive until months into the school year and then is required to be spent in half the time it was originally intended, often creating pressure for projects to be carried out in a rushed manner that does not reflect the original intentions of the partners. As well, the limitations imposed on EPP partners by the annual proposal based model means that only short-term contracts can be offered to EPP project staff, restricting job security and making it difficult to hire quality professionals to fill EPP positions.
In the past, projects that have been successfully funded by the EPP partnership in New Brunswick have been the Acculturation of Curriculum, which works with a committee of cultural Elders to develop cultural resources to supplement the provincial curriculum in language arts and social studies; the Special Needs and Students At-Risk, which worked with Band-operated Schools to build capacity in special education through professional learning and coaching opportunities; the Community/School-based Literacy Specialists, featuring 7-9 literacy specialists dedicated to working with First Nations students grades K-2 in provincial schools while building literacy linkages with their communities; and the K4 Transition to Kindergarten Initiative, a capacity building project for educators in K4 programs on reserve, currently managed by Three Nations (please see K4 Initiative under the Programs tab on this website for more information).
The EPP was created by the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada with the intention of providing access to additional funding while it underwent a massive reform of its education programs. It is expected that with the implementation of the impending First Nation Education Act, the EPP will be dissolved and the funding attached to it used to fund First Nations education directly through the Act.
More information on the EPP can be found on the AANDC website: