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What is the First Nations Information Governance Centre?

The First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) is an incorporated non-profit operating with a special mandate from the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in Assembly (Resolution #48, December 2009). FNIGC envisions that every First Nation will achieve data sovereignty in alignment with its distinct world view



What does FNIGC do?

FNIGC does a wide range of work including research, training, capacity building, and knowledge translation, but our foundational work involves data gathering initiatives in First Nations reserve and Northern communities. These include the First Nations Regional Health Survey (FNRHS), the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey (FNREEES), the First Nations Labour and Employment Development (FNLED) survey and the First Nations Community Survey (FNCS), which we conduct in collaboration with our Regional Partners.

The FNRHS (or RHS for short) was established in 1997 and is the only First Nations-governed national health survey in Canada. It collects information about First Nations health based on Western and traditional understandings of health and well-being. To learn more about the RHS go to the RHS section of our website.

The FNREEES (or REEES for short) launched in November 2013 in 250 First Nations communities and was the most technically complex survey ever undertaken by FNIGC. The REEES was created to address a long-standing data gap that existed around early childhood education and development, youth employment and education, adult employment and education, and labour-market conditions in First Nations communities. The baseline data collected through the REEES offers valuable information on key indicators on a range of topics spanning the life cycle. To learn more about the REEES, go to the REEES section of our website.

The FNLED survey is a new national survey initiative focused on labour market information about employment, labour, jobs, and skills in First Nations communities across Canada. The FNLED is an important extension of work done by FNIGC and its Regional Partners and is designed to build on the foundational work of the RHS and, more specifically, the REEES. The data collection period for the FNLED survey started in fall 2018 and will see nearly 19,000 First Nations people in 230 communities interviewed. The FNLED national report is scheduled for release in 2021. To learn more about the FNLED survey, go to the FNLED section of our website.

FNIGC receives funding for these surveys through agreements with Health Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada.

FNIGC’s survey work has been independently reviewed and verified by Harvard University in 2006 and Johns Hopkins University in 2012. Harvard concluded:

"Compared to other national surveys of Indigenous people from around the world, the 2002/2003 RHS was unique in First Nations ownership of the research process, its explicit incorporation of First Nations values into the research design and in the intensive collaborative engagement of First Nations people and their representatives at each stage of the research process."

FNIGC is also home to the First Nations principles of OCAP®, a set of principles guiding how research on First Nations people should be conducted and how the information, once gathered, should be stored. OCAP® (which stands for ownership, control, access, and possession) means that First Nations control data collection processes in their communities and that First Nations own, protect and control how their information is used. Access to First Nations data is important, and under OCAP® First Nation people determine how and when external researchers and academics are allowed to access and use their information.

The right of First Nations communities to own, control, access, and possess information about their peoples is fundamentally tied to self-determination and to the preservation and development of their culture. OCAP® allows a community to make decisions regarding why, how and by whom information is collected, used or shared. To learn more about the First Nations principles of OCAP®, go to the OCAP® section of our website.

When was FNIGC established?

FNIGC came into being as an incorporated non-profit on April 22, 2010, but its data sovereignty work stretches back to 1996. That's when the Assembly of First Nations formed a National Steering Committee with the intent of creating a new national First Nations health survey, in response to the Federal Government’s 1994 decision to exclude First Nations people living on-reserve from three major longitudinal surveys.

The result of the Commitee's efforts was the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey, a 1997 pilot project that collected more than 14,000 surveys from 181 First Nations communities and five Inuit communities. The pilot survey (now known as the RHS Pilot) was intended to address First Nations and Inuit health and well-being issues, and acknowledged the need for First Nations and Inuit people to control their own health information.

In 2002 the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey Phase 1 began, this time as a solely First Nations survey (the Inuit having decided to conduct their own survey) and adding the Yukon and Northwest Territories regions to the process. More than 22,600 surveys — representing 80 percent of the target sample — were collected in 238 First Nations communities during the RHS Phase 1. 

In 2008, data collection began for the First Nations Regional Health Survey Phase 2, which achieved 73 percent of the target sample with 21,757 surveys being collected in 217 First Nation communities.

In June 2011, FNIGC received a mandate from the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in Assembly (Resolution 19, 2011) to conduct a new survey, the REEES. Data collection for the REEES began in November 2013 in 250 reserves and Northern communities across Canada, and carried out by FNIGC Regional Partners and regional Field Workers. The REEES gathered information about early childhood education and development, youth employment and education, adult employment and education, and labour-market conditions in First Nations communities. 

In 2016, FNIGC began work on the FNLED survey, the first major national survey focused on labour and employment conditions in First Nations communities.  

Where is FNIGC located?

The FNIGC has two offices. Its Head Office is based in Akwesasne, Ontario, with its operational office is in Ottawa, Ontario.

FNIGC works in collaboration with 10 Regional Partners, which are integral to carrying out its survey work.

For a complete list of staff, go to FNIGC’s Contact section of our site.

For information about job postings go to our Careers section.      

For more information about FNIGC, go to our FAQs.

To learn more about FNIGC, follow the FNIGC Blog