First Nation Students and Data Privacy


These are just some of the words that have come up when we start talking about reporting First Nation student data.

I came across an interesting article from the USA that named January 28th as data privacy day. It sparked my interest and started me thinking about First Nation students who apply for funding to go to Post Secondary and the recent changes that have been imposed on First Nations in Canada through the new Education Information System (EIS) reporting systems for Post-Secondary.   The First Nation is obligated to provide that information or risk having their funding suspended.

First Nations have resisted the EIS because of information received through legal opinions:

The broad scope of other reasons set out under s. 8(2) in the Privacy Act for which AANDC can disclose personal information it collects in the EIS raise concerns that AANDC should be required to respond to. Those reasons for disclosure include the following:

•    If a federal statute or regulation authorizes disclosure of the information;
•    Disclosure to investigative bodies listed in the regulations, on request of that investigative body, in order to enforce federal or provincial laws;
•    To any government institution for the purpose of locating an individual to collect a debt owing to Canada; and
•    For any purpose where the “public interest” outweighs the invasion of privacy on the individual or it would clearly benefit the individual.

Some First Nations Counsellors have resisted and others have been hesitant to report because they want to know who is liable for any challenges for failing to obtain consent to disclose.  Is the Counsellor or Director of Education legally responsible?  Is the First Nation responsible? Is AANDC responsible because they are including the information under their agreements with First Nation’s Contribution Funding Agreements. What are the implications of giving out this vast amount of information on students?

Is it the students responsibility to ask what is my information being used for? What happens to my personal data once I give it to the First Nations? How is my information stored? Is my information secure? Who will my information be shared with and under what circumstances?  I guess as a student these are some of the questions you should be asking before you make that application. 

Through the assistance of an ONECA member we are able to provide you with a synopsis of the information being requested under the First Nation Nominal Role EIS Reporting.  I would suggest you become familiar with the information being provided  and if you are concerned about your privacy and your right to protecting your information you should contact your First Nation.  You should also contact Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada and have them provide you with a written statement detailing how and what your information is being used for and how it is being protected.

Annual Register of PS Education Students Draft

Roxane Manitowabi,
Executive Director, ONECA.