Note from the Chair

The Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association (IAHLA) has many exciting projects and initiatives to advance in 2019! This is why we are relaunching our newsletter and working towards relaunching our website—so that our member institutes can stay informed on our activities as an association.

As you may know, IAHLA received funding from the Department of Indigenous Services Canada for the 2018/2019 fiscal year which increased our capacity to support our member institutes and plan for the future. As IAHLA continues to participate in the development of the BC Tripartite Post-Secondary Education Model, we look to other regions such as Ontario who have developed legislative frameworks in support of their institutes for inspiration. Projects detailed in this newsletter such as the Institutes Costing Project and the IAHLA Data Collection Project will help us advance a funding model that will meet the needs of institutes, in partnership with the federal and provincial governments.

IAHLA, along with the First Nations Education Steering Committee and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training have developed a joint work plan with six focus areas including Indigenous teacher recruitment, retention, and deployment, Indigenous language proficiency/fluency degree, funding for First Nations-mandated institutes, a comprehensive post-secondary strategy, a responsive public post-secondary system, Indigenous board members, and former children and youth in care.

Finally, I want to acknowledge and thank our outgoing IAHLA Board member, Jason Wong.  We wish him the best in his new position as Vice-President of Finance and Administration with the First Nations University of Canada.


-Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet

Memorandum to Cabinet: Policy Proposal

In 2017/2018, IAHLA participated in the First Nations-led Comprehensive Review of Federal Post-Secondary Education Programming. Following its completion and the subsequent interim report, the Chiefs in Assembly endorsed Assembly of First Nations Resolution 29/2018 First Nations Post-Secondary Education Review Report and Recommendations. The Resolution creates space for First Nations to implement the recommendations of the report “as appropriate” and directs the AFN, Chiefs Committee on Education (CCOE) and National Indian Education Council (NIEC) to work in partnership with the Department of Indigenous Services Canada to develop a joint process that supports existing PSE models and the implementation of new regional processes and models.

A policy proposal appended to a Memorandum to Cabinet was developed that requests enhanced investments in First Nations post-secondary education and the policy authority required for regions to develop their own regional post-secondary education models.

The proposal includes the following requests:

  1. Immediate investment of $417.6M in 2019/2020 as follows:
    • $45M for Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) Renewal,
    • $200.6M PSSSP top-up to address real costs for current students,
    • $102.3M PSSSP top-up to address the real costs of current unfunded students
    • $62.1M immediate investment of governance funding for First Nations-mandated institutes.
  2. Modernization of the PSSSP and Post-Secondary Partnerships Program with updated terms and conditions exclusively focused on the needs of First Nations in a manner consistent with First Nations Control of First Nations Education.
  3. Funding totaling $15.5M over three years to support First Nations and DISC to co-develop regional funding models for First Nation students, communities and First Nations-mandated institutes.

However, this Memorandum to Cabinet was not presented before the release of Federal Budget 2019. In Budget 2019, the federal government committed to invest $327.5 million over five years to renew and expand funding for the PSSSP while engaging with First Nations on the development of First Nations-led post-secondary models. While Budget 2019 recognizes that work is required in order for First Nations to develop their own regional post-secondary education models, it does not provide specific funding towards this task. IAHLA and FNESC will continue to do this work while seeking funding for this purpose.

IAHLA Conference 2015

Apply to present at the IAHLA Conference!

IAHLA will be holding its Annual General Meeting and Conference on October 17-18, 2019 at the Vancouver Airport Marriott Hotel, Richmond.

The conference theme will be Successful Institutes under a BC Tripartite Post-Secondary Education Model.

Workshop applications are now being accepted.  See the Call for Workshops and Application Form.

Watch for a registration invitation in late August, 2019.

Tripartite BC Post-Secondary Education Model

BC First Nations and First Nations-mandated institutes are developing a Tripartite BC Post-Secondary Education Model which includes funding, policy, and program delivery models for students, First Nations institutes, and community-based program delivery, as well as mechanisms to ensure the public post-secondary system is responsive to the needs of First Nations learners. IAHLA’s ongoing participation in the development of the Model has occurred through discussion with the IAHLA Board of Directors, the June 2018 IAHLA AGM & Conference whose theme was ‘Building our Sector’, and participation in the FNESC Post-Secondary Education Gathering in October 2018.

IAHLA has secured funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training to develop a costing model that will determine an appropriate amount of core funding and funding criteria for First Nations-mandated institutes. Further engagement will occur over the next year, including through the IAHLA AGM and Conference to ensure the Tripartite BC Post-Secondary Education Model reflects the needs and priorities of First Nations and First Nations-mandated institutes.

Data Collection Project

The intent of the IAHLA Data Collection Project is to develop a better understanding of First Nations institutes and to report on the scope of programming and services being offered to support learners. The project includes one survey to be completed by institute staff and another survey to be completed by learners. The information collected is useful at the institute level, so that individual institutes can make decisions regarding programming and budgeting. It is also useful at the collective level to inform the development of a funding model for First Nations institutes in BC and other important advocacy.

IAHLA began collecting data from its member institutes in 2005 and has completed many IAHLA data collection projects in the past, with the last one concluding in 2016. IAHLA has hired Directions: Evidence and Policy Working Group to complete this project for 2018/2019. Directions circulated surveys to all of IAHLA's member institutes and is currently completing the final report. 

Indigenous Institutes Costing Project

The Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training has provided IAHLA and FNESC with funding to support an Indigenous Institutes Costing Project. As part of the development of the BC Tripartite Post-Secondary Education Model, BC First Nations and First Nations institutes must develop an Indigenous Institute Costing Model in order to determine the amount of funding is required from the federal and provincial governments to support First Nations-mandated institutes.

Since there is large variation in the size and programming of the 42 IAHLA institutes in BC, work must first be undertaken to develop an institute classification system and funding eligibility criteria, as well as an appropriate costing model. This work will inform requests for core funding for IAHLA institutes, as well as other types of funding determined necessary to support the flourishing of IAHLA institutes.

Indigenous Language Proficiency / Fluency Degree

In partnership with IAHLA and FNESC, the Indigenous Language Fluency/Proficiency Degree Consortium developed a framework for an Indigenous Language Fluency/Proficiency Degree to be offered by First Nations and post-secondary institutions in partnership. The framework directly supports First Nations language revitalization by providing a model that BC First Nations can utilize and adapt to meet their needs.

This initiative is vital because BC is home to 34 Indigenous languages, all of which are endangered. FNESC has recently received $2 million from the Ministry of Advance Education, Skills & Training to support the implementation of the program in community. The recent funding is intended to enable students to be able to remain in community for the first two years of this program in order to develop fluency and access the support required to be able to advance to the next stages of the program or to other pathways.


Coast Salish / Island Region
Nancy Seward, Snuneymuxw House of Learning

Coast Salish Mainland / Lower St’atl’imc Region 

Gitksan / Wet’suwet’en Region
Priscilla Michell, Kyah Wiget Education Society

Haida / Tsimshian / Haisla/ Nisga'a Region
Deanna Nyce, Wilp Wilxo'oskwhl Nisga'a

Kaska / Dene / Tahltan / Tagish / Inland Tlingit Region
Cathy Warren, Kwadacha Dune Ty

Kootenay / Okanagan Region
Tracey Bonneau, En’owkin Centre


Kwakwaka’wakw / Heiltsuk / Nuxalk / Oweekeno / Nuu-chah-nulth Region
Bonita Wallas, K’ak’ot’lats’i School, Quatsino First Nation

Secwepemc / Northern St’atl’imc / Nlaka’pamux Region
Verna Billy-Minnabarriet,
IAHLA Chair, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology

Tsilhqot’in / Carrier Region
Louise Lacerte, IAHLA Secretary, Lake Babine Nation

Member at Large
Ashley Joe, IAHLA Vice-Chair, Sechelt Indian Band Education Centre


IAHLA Membership Renewals

We appreciate your participation and membership in IAHLA!

The IAHLA membership year is July 1st to June 30th and for an institute to become an IAHLA member, there is a $200 membership fee. Eligible institutes are welcome to apply at any time during the year but pro-rated membership fees are not available.

Contact Sarah Lefebvre at to inquire about membership renewal.


The Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association is the representative organization for a wide variety of Indigenous controlled adult and post-secondary educational institutes across BC.

IAHLA members are governed by Board members representing Aboriginal communities, and offer a broad spectrum of courses and programs, such as: college and university programs leading to certificates, diplomas, and degrees; Adult Basic Education leading to the Adult Dogwood Diploma for secondary school completion; language instruction; occupation specific training and upgrading; and a broad spectrum of lifespan learning programs that support Aboriginal people, communities, languages, and cultures.

Learn about IAHLA


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