In a few short months, the Kinoomaadziwin Education Body (KEB) will be operating on the Nipissing First Nation from its new head office headquarters.

The 10 to 15 staff members who will occupy the building will be responsible for helping 23 First Nations in Ontario, including the Nipissing and Dokis First Nations, develop a curriculum for the on-reserve schools.

The work the employees will carry out is the result of the Anishinabek Education System agreement negotiated several months ago with the federal government.

KEB Education Director Kelly Crawford says under the AES, provisions of the Indian Act no longer apply to the 23 participating First Nations.

Crawford says the First Nations are free to chart their own education program and will be able to do that with help from KEB.

“We’ll have lots of work to do and take direction from the First Nations,” Crawford said.

“Not only are we looking at curriculum development, but we’ll also be helping with culture and language programs and teacher certification.”

Crawford says that’s the work the KEB staff members will do at the local level.

She says afterward there’s provincial related work that takes in a Master Education Agreement with the provincial government.

“Here we’ll be working with provincial school boards and the Ministry of Education as well as additional projects and initiatives,” she said.

Under AES the on-reserve schools offer JK to Grade 12 classes and also include core subjects like the maths and sciences.

She adds the provisions of the AES also apply to off-reserve students as long as they are members of the participating 23 First Nations.

Crawford says the programs the Indigenous students take will all be recognized by colleges and universities when they’re ready to graduate to the post-secondary system.

Although the AES affects almost two dozen Indigenous communities for now, the goal over time is to increase that number.

Construction at the KEB building which is on Highway 17 close to the Union of Ontario Indian complex, continues and should be ready for occupancy this fall.

Meantime the KEB employees have already started their work ahead of the fall occupancy by leasing space from Nipissing’s administrative offices.