Historic agreement between Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta and U of A aims to enhance public education opportunities for students

New courses will allow students to earn high school and post-secondary credit as they discover their career passions.


Verna Yiu, the U of A’s Interim Provost and Vice-President (Academic) and Billy Joe Laboucan, Grand Chief of Education for the Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta, shake hands after signing the historic agreement. (Photo credit: Treaty 8 First Nations)

The University of Alberta and Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta (T8FN) have entered into a Memorandum of Relational Understanding, solidifying a partnership aimed at fostering growth and success for T8FN students.

The memorandum will allow students to build on or discover their career passions and interests, offering dual-credit courses that provide high school credits and credits applicable towards a post-secondary degree.

The partnership’s key aims include improving high school graduation rates through engaging dual-credit courses, promoting post-secondary education among young adults to equip them with valuable skills, and facilitating a strong connection between students and the job market through relevant coursework and hands-on experiences in their chosen fields.

“The need for dual credits is paramount to the success of Indigenous students,” says Billy Joe Laboucan, T8FN Grand Chief of Education. “This helps support them not only for career and technology studies, but also trades, medical, legal and other programs and careers. We honour this preliminary agreement between the University of Alberta and Treaty 8 First Nations as it is the first of its kind.”

“Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta looks forward to building relationships with the University of Alberta in a true reconciliation spirit based on an equitable partnership,” adds Judy Kim-Meneen, Director of Education for T8FN. “The dual-credit program will be another opportunity to help our students achieve their full potential. Our current and future generations' Treaty Right to Education, based on lifelong learning from birth to grave, will be honoured and upheld.”

Verna Yiu, the U of A's Interim Provost and Vice-President (Academic), says this historic agreement with Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta represents a significant step forward in building better relationships with Indigenous communities — equal, respectful and mutually beneficial.

“This partnership is a promise to in-power the next generation of learners with knowledge, skills and experiences to help them succeed in their academic and career pursuits,” says Yiu. “This corresponds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action to address the educational and employment gaps that Indigenous peoples face.”

Providing these innovative pathways will mean that more First Nations students will be recruited and pursue a wide range of professions, says Yiu. She adds that this work aligns closely with SHAPE, the U of A’s recently launched 10-year strategic plan, along with other institutional priorities, including the Braiding Past, Present and Future: Indigenous Strategic Plan.