Our children are our future. We have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that future. The need for radical change, a complete overhaul of the education system for our people is the basis of the required change. To do this, we must look within ourselves, our communities, our nations for ‘the answers are within us.’

(Verna J. Kirkness, 1999, Aboriginal Education in Canada: A Retrospective and a Prospective)


The Martin Family Initiative (MFI) seeks to improve elementary and secondary school education outcomes for Aboriginal Canadians through the implementation of specific programs and the application of appropriate research.  In partnership MFI and OISE, University of Toronto, offered the pilot course for the First Nations Schools Principals’ Course which was delivered in September 2015 to 20 principals of Band-operated schools across Canada.

The Program

The First Nations Schools Principals' Course is designed for Principals, Vice Principals and aspiring school leaders to develop educational leadership skills and school improvement strategies.  The curriculum includes readings, resources, discussions and case studies directly related to working in Band-operated schools.

Educational Leadership

  • Working with parents, community leaders & members, Elders, educators and others to meet the needs of students
  • Effective school leadership in a First Nations context
  • Leading change in Band-operated schools

School Improvement Strategies

  • Working with teachers to establish and implement high expectations for student learning and wellbeing
  • Collecting and using a range of data about student's learning to improve classroom instruction
  • Providing feedback to teachers to improve classroom instruction

Program Features

  • The program is offered as a blended format, in that it is delivered 2 days on-campus in Toronto, followed by 8 months of online learning, including video conferencing, peer networking and practical experience.
  • Develop your professional network by engaging with colleagues in the program who are also working in Band-operated schools and looking to advance their leadership and school improvement strategies.

Recognition of Learning

  • Successful completion is a final grade of C-

  • Upon successful completion of the course, a certificate of completion recognized by OISE, Continuing and Professional Learning at the University of Toronto will be granted. For members in good standing with the Ontario College of Teachers, a recommendation will be sent for two Schedule C courses:

    • First Nations’ School Leader Program: Leadership
    • First Nations’ School Leader Program: Supporting Indigenous Learning and Holistic Well-Being