New report offers unprecedented look at realities of family, school, and work life in First Nations communities in Canada

A new report released today by the First Nations Information Governance Centre (FNIGC) provides unprecedented and exceptional insight into a wide range of early childhood, education and employment factors affecting life on First Nations reserve and Northern communities across Canada. 

Now is the Time: Our Data, Our Stories, Our Future,The National Report of the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey is the culmination of a landmark five-year survey process conducted by FNIGC, the premier source of information about First Nations people and communities, and its Regional Partners.

The most technically complex survey in FNIGC’s history, the report of the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey (FNREEES, or REEES) shows strong associations between the importance First Nations people place on language, culture and family, and the educational, employment, health, and well-being outcomes in their communities.

Among the key findings of the REEEES are:

  • The majority of First Nations parents placed a high value on learning a First Nations language, with 88 percent saying it was either “somewhat” or “very” important that their children learned one.
  • The majority, or 70%, of First Nations youth who reported having “excellent” First Nations language skills also reported high levels of life balance (a composite of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being), compared to 45% of those who said they had “poor” First Nations language skills.
  • Nearly 60 percent (59%) of First Nations children had at least one grandparent or great-grandparent who had attended an Indian Residential School.
  • Parental involvement in school was closely associated with a child’s success in certain key factors such as, better performance, higher attendance, and lower drop-out rates. For example, the dropout rate among First Nations youth who reported that their parents regularly spoke to their teachers was 11% (or 1 in 10); compared to 26% (or 1 in 4) among First Nations youth who reported that their parents never spoke to their teachers.
  • More than one-third (39%) of First Nations children were reported to live in households with combined incomes of less than $20,000, an improvement on the 43% reported in 2012 in FNIGC’s First Nations Regional Health Survey Phase 2.
  • Younger First Nations adults were more likely to be unemployed: nearly half (46%) of First Nations adults aged 18 to 24 reported being out of work compared to one-third (33%) of those aged 25 to 44, and 1 in 4 (23%) of those aged 45 to 64. 
  • Contrary to common belief, the remoteness of a First Nations community played no significant role in unemployment rates within these communities. Unemployment rates in urban First Nation communities (22%) were not significantly different from the rates in rural (24%) or remote communities (22%). In fact, it appears that the size of a community played more of a role, with employment rates being highest (63%) in smaller First Nations communities (less than 300 people), compared to 47% in larger First Nations communities (more than 1,500 people).

“The results from FNIGC’s landmark First Nations-led survey process reveal the strengths, challenges and resiliencies of our communities across the country.” says Gail Mc Donald, Executive Director of FNIGC. “In the immediate future our hope is that the information contained in this report will serve as talking points for ways to improve and build-upon the existing strengths in our communities, while providing a rich data source that will inform our leadership and inspire researchers, policy makers and other decision-makers for years to come.”

The REEES is a unique First Nations-led survey that explored a wide range of topics impacting life in 243 First Nations communities across 10 provinces and two territories. The survey interviewed 20,428 First Nation children, youth, and adults between November 2013 and May 2015, and explored topics spanning early childhood education and development, to youth employment and education, and adult employment and labour force conditions.     

The REEES was conducted with the support of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada in partnership with Health Canada and Employment and Social Development Canada and carried out in conjunction with FNIGC’s Regional Partner organizations.

To download the complete report click here The National Report of the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey


To download FNIGC's FNREEES Quick Facts booklet click here FNREEES Quick Facts for Leadership


To download our FNREEES Fact Sheets click below:


FNREEES Did You Know? #1: First Nations Employment Experiences

FNREEES Did You Know? #2: First Nations Employment Readiness

FNREEES Did You Know? #3: The Role of Family and Community

FNREEES Did You Know? #4: First Nations Youth Education Experiences

FNREEES Did You Know? #5: First Nations Early Childhood Education

FNREEES Did You Know? #6: The State of First Nations Languages




Founded in 2010, FNIGC is an incorporated non-profit organization operated by First Nations for First Nations, FNIGC is the premier source of information about First Nations people living on reserve and northern communities in Canada.

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Media request contact: Lorraine Cheechoo, lcheechoo [at] fnigc [dot] ca (lcheechoo [at] fnigc [dot] ca) or 613-733-1916 ext. 135