Provincial and Territorial Ministers Focus on Indigenous Education and the Future of Education at CMEC 108

VICTORIA, July 25, 2019 – Indigenous education and reconciliation, and reimagining the future of K-12 and postsecondary education in the context of the changing nature of work, were the main focus of provincial and territorial ministers responsible for education as they met this week in Victoria, on the traditional territory of the Lkwungen (Songhees) and Wyomilth (Esquimalt) peoples of the Coast Salish Nation, for the 108th meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC).

The Honourable Melanie Mark, Chair of CMEC and Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training for British Columbia, led the two-day event.

“CMEC 108 gave ministers the opportunity to think about the future of education in our provinces and territories,” said Minister Mark. “Learners are relying on us to deliver on our commitments for equitable, high-quality education so that all Canadians reach their full potential in work and in life and to drive our country’s economic future.”

Ministers discussed ways to ensure that all learners get the skills and training they need to be informed citizens, ready to meet the challenges of the future. Ministers also shared their thoughts on how to support apprenticeships, in particular to address the significant shortages in trades being experienced in provinces and territories.

CMEC 108 discussions noted that education is linked to a broad range of priority sectors in provincial and territorial economies, including science, technology, engineering, the arts, math, entrepreneurship, and design (STEAMED).

Special Session: Indigenous education and reconciliation

In keeping with the important role of education in the work of reconciliation, ministers held a special session on Indigenous education and reconciliation at CMEC 108.

CMEC Indigenous Education Plan, 201922

Building on the successful work of previous Indigenous education plans developed through CMEC, ministers reviewed and approved the CMEC Indigenous Education Plan, 2019–22. The plan will focus on four priority areas:

  • mobilizing and disseminating provincial/territorial and international successful practices and proven actions to improve Indigenous education;
  • revitalizing Indigenous languages and strengthening Indigenous culture and identity through education;
  • teaching excellence in Indigenous education; and
  • Indigenous student success and well-being in education.

Provinces and territories were guided in the development of the plan by their regular and ongoing engagement with their respective regional Indigenous partners.

Indigenous student panel

Ministers met with secondary school and postsecondary Indigenous students to learn more about the students’ experiences with and perspectives on their education. Topics included Indigenous student success; systemic barriers faced by Indigenous students; and approaches to incorporating Indigenous culture, history, and knowledge in schools and curricula.

Revitalization of Indigenous languages

In the context of the United Nations’ International Year of Indigenous Languages (2019), which aims to raise awareness of the consequences of the endangerment of Indigenous languages across the world, ministers shared information on initiatives co-designed with Indigenous communities in their province or territory that support revitalization of Indigenous languages through education.

Special session on reimagining education

A special session on reimagining the future of education examined how education systems must adapt to prepare learners for success beyond the classroom and for the jobs of the future. Ministers received presentation from three global education thought leaders and from institutions putting future-oriented ideas into practice, including on:

  • how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will transform the future of work and life, and how and what educators of the future will teach;
  • implications for curriculum and education delivery; and
  • how labour market challenges and barriers to employment are addressed through partnerships and technology that match talent to needs and opportunity.

CMEC Postsecondary Education Strategy, 201922

Ministers approved a new collective agenda of work in postsecondary education. The CMEC Postsecondary Education Strategy, 2019–22, focuses on five priority areas:

  • the future of skills and work;
  • Indigenous postsecondary education;
  • postsecondary access and affordability;
  • sustainability and outcomes of postsecondary education; and
  • student transitions.

These priority areas will be addressed by a team of senior provincial and territorial officials. Their analyses and recommendations will be brought back to ministers for further deliberation each year.

Meeting with Rick Hansen

Ministers of Education received a presentation by Rick Hansen, a passionate supporter and international ambassador of people with disabilities. His presentation focused on the Rick Hansen Foundation School Program (RHFSP), which offers educators free resources to help elementary and secondary students learn more about improving accessibility and inclusion in their schools and communities. 

CMEC on the world stage

CMEC plays an important role representing the common interests of provinces and territories internationally on education-related issues. It ensures provinces and territories are influential participants in discussions that shape the future of education.

CMEC International Education and Engagement Strategy, 2019–22

Ministers reviewed and approved the CMEC International Education and Engagement Strategy, 2019–22. The new strategy has two over-arching goals: that provincial and territorial education systems are recognized internationally and that strategic relationships in international education are developed and strengthened.

These goals are supported by short- and long-term objectives and specific collective actions such as active participation in international education-related forums; development of priority markets for international students; and engagement with relevant stakeholders, as appropriate.

United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4)

Ministers also reviewed work related to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), which aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” In Canada, provinces and territories are leading this important work.

Rotation of the Chair of CMEC

The meeting marked the end of British Columbia’s two-year term as Chair of CMEC. British Columbia has championed pan-Canadian work and discussions that orient CMEC’s work to the ongoing and future common needs of provinces and territories, including:

  • reimagining the future of education as learner needs shift to reflect changes in technology and work;
  • CMEC’s Indigenous Education Plan (IEP), and sessions that included Indigenous student panels at ministers’ meetings and hosting the 2018 Symposium on Indigenizing Teacher Education at the University of British Columbia; and
  • establishing a three-year postsecondary education strategic plan.

Minister Melanie Mark, the first Indigenous Chair in the history of CMEC, welcomed the Honourable Caroline Cochrane, a proud Métis woman, as the new Chair of CMEC. Northwest Territories becomes the first territory to lead the council.

About CMEC

Founded in 1967, CMEC is a collective voice for Canada’s ministers of education and postsecondary education. It provides leadership in education at the pan-Canadian and international levels and contributes to the exercise of the exclusive jurisdiction of provinces and territories over education.

CMEC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2017. For more information, visit us at

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Colin Bailey
Director, Communications and Governance
Cell: 437-777-4879
Tel.: 416-962-8100, ext. 259
Twitter: @CCMEC