An Oral History of First Nation Education Funding

Funding for First Nation education has never been based on a realistic formula.

The core funding for First Nations schools is based on a Band Operated Funding Formula or "BOFF." The education BOFF is actually based on a draft 1988 document called Formula Funding from the Education Branch of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.

The formula in the 1988 BOFF was based on calculations by the Government of Ontario for publicly funded schools. It was not based on the actual needs of First Nation schools, nor did it ever evolve to meet evolving needs like new technology, governance, and increased second-level service requirements.

Here, we share an audio feature of Mohawk policy analyst Karihwakeron Tim Thompson explaining how the funding policy for education is an example of 'social engineering' and what this policy might look like in the future. 

Karihwakeron Tim Thompson

Mohawk Nation, Bear Clan Family,
Wahta Mohawk Territory

Karihwakeron is a strong proponent of Indigenous language revitalization and is a proud graduate of the Onkwawén:na Kentióhkwa Kanienkéha/Mohawk language immersion program. Karihwakeron has held many roles, including: Policy Director of the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Education Coordinator for the Chiefs of Ontario, Education Director and Director of Languages for the Assembly of First Nations, President and CAO of First Nations Technical Institute. Karihwakeron was named as one of twelve defenders of human rights in the “Speak Truth to Power” initiative. He is a Yellowhead Institute Research Fellow. 

" much will it cost to have to have adequate teachers in these schools? How much will it cost to have these programs and services? ...they didn’t do that kind of examination — they just created a formula based on an existing pie, divided it all up, and over the years, would add money to it."


Mia Ohki Illustration - #519 - Love Letter from the Sun