Liberals create post-secondary education task force for North

The federal government is launching a task force designed to improve education opportunities and outcomes in the Canadian North and Arctic.

Dan Vandal, the federal minister of northern affairs, announced a group of 13 individuals from northern communities will study challenges facing post-secondary education in the North.

In a news release, Ottawa stated the task force will have a $1-million budget.


“Every Canadian deserves a real and fair chance at success, no matter where they live,” Vandal is quoted as saying.

“When more Canadians are able to continue their education, practise new skills, or learn on the job, they are better-prepared to find and keep good jobs now and in the future.”

Three out of 13 members on the task force come from the Northwest Territories.

They include Dr Kelsey Wrightson, executive director of the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning; Malerie Bayha, a youth member of the Délı̨nę First Nation; and Angélique Ruzindana Umunyana, who sits on the board of directors for Collège Nordique Francophone.

Task force members will lead public engagement sessions in the North and elsewhere, then make recommendations in a formal report.


The first draft is expected by the winter of 2021.

“These innovative solutions will be led by northerners, for northerners, ensuring the unique needs of remote and northern communities are met,” the federal government said in its news release.

The task force is said by the Liberal government to be part of its Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, which was created in part to close gaps between the North and the rest of Canada. The Liberals have faced criticism for delays in both creating and implementing the framework.

The 2019 federal budget allocated $40 million over five years to support post-secondary education in the North, with $13 million going to the Dechinta Centre and the remainder going to the task force and Yukon University.


Post-secondary institutions in the NWT – Aurora College, Collège Nordique Francophone and the Dechinta Centre – recently signed an agreement pledging to collaborate in improving the quality of education in the territory.