VICTORIA, B.C. – The Province announced legislative changes to support First Nations jurisdiction over education on Monday.

According to a release, the changes made on October 25th, 2021, will make it possible for the Province to give operational support for the new certification and regulation process.

“Education can and must play a key role in reconciliation and in creating a future of equity and justice for all,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “These legislative changes are a concrete step forward in implementing the Province’s reconciliation commitments as we commit to advance education outcomes for Indigenous students.”

Tyrone McNeil, president of the First Nations Education Steering Committee, says he appreciates the chance to work with the B.C. government on a groundbreaking initiative.

“Supporting First Nations in certifying and regulating teachers in their own schools is fundamental to their exercise of jurisdiction,” said McNeil.

First Nations have been working to advance jurisdiction over education for more than 20 years, and teacher certification and regulation is one of the key components of jurisdiction, says a release.

The changes announced Monday have been developed together with the First Nations Education Steering Committee, under the direction of the First Nations engaged in the initiative.

“The B.C. First Nations education jurisdiction initiative, including our ability to certify and regulate teachers who we know are the right fit for our schools and students, is a true reflection of First Nations control of First Nations education – which we have been advancing for decades,” said Hugh Braker of the Tseshaht First Nation, one of the negotiators for the initiative.

This legislation will change the makeup of the British Columbia Teachers’ Council, whose responsibilities include certification, conduct and competence standards for provincial teaching certificate holders. The changes will ensure representation on the council by the First Nations Education Authority.

The legislation changes will amend the First Nations Education Act, the Teachers Act and the Criminal Records Review Act.

For the legislative changes, visit the B.C. government website.