Stephen Lecce, the Minister of Education and Greg Rickford, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines announced the creation of a transparent process they say will allow all First Nation students to access educational pursuits without delay.

“We want to remove the barriers for our First Nation students,” Lecce said at the press conference at the Kinoomaadzwin Education Body office. “They have incredible promise, incredible ingenuity. They want to give back, they want to make a difference.”

The Reciprocal Education Approach (REA) as it is called, came into effect on September 1 of this year and will make sure that First Nation students and their families are supported by a consistent and transparent process when they choose to study at a publicly-funded or First Nation-operated schools.

The REA is a result of a collaboration between Ontario First Nation partners, school board associations and the Ministry of Education. The framework of the program was designed to meet the needs of First Nation students, particularly those in northern and remote communities.

“When there is an impediment in the system that impedes the mobility of a student on a reserve to access education or vice versa, our partners and First Nations leaders and elders have told us clearly we need to make a change,” Lecce explained.

“No matter where in Ontario an Indigenous student lives, they should be able to choose a school where they can thrive,” Rickford said.

Under the previous approach, formal agreements on base fees were required for First Nation students wishing to attend a provincially-funded school or First Nation-operated school.