Overall, Canada has a world-class public education system. The successes of our education system is in large part a credit to Canada’s committed teachers. Yet, Canada’s aggregate educational outcomes don’t tell the whole story. According to the 2016 census, only 48% of 20-to-24-year-old First Nations youth living on reserve have a high school diploma.
And, too often, schools in northern First Nations face challenges recruiting and retaining teachers. This is the challenge that Teach For Canada aims to address.
A combination of systemic under-funding of education, a history of oppression, a legacy of outside involvement in remote and Indigenous communities, teacher shortages and rapid teacher turnover, and social challenges have combined to reduce education outcomes in remote communities. Much of the inequity that Teach For Canada seeks to address is itself the result of residential schools—the calculated destruction of Indigenous languages, cultures, and communities in the name of education.
Many remote and Indigenous communities struggle to keep teachers in the classroom for one entire school year, or even for one full term. While two years is far from perfect, a minimum two-year commitment is far superior to a sequence of shorter-term teachers, or no teachers at all. Many Teach For Canada teachers will stay in the classroom after their initial two-year commitment. For those who do not, we recruit, prepare, and support another teacher to take their place.
Yes. Recruiting Indigenous teachers is a priority for Teach For Canada and for many partner First Nations. It is important for students to see themselves in their educators. However, a large gap persists between the percentage of teachers and students who self-identify as having Indigenous ancestry. In recognition of this, we make every effort to prioritize the successful recruitment of Indigenous teachers by connecting with Indigenous education groups and organizations and by offering one-on-one support and flexibility to applicants throughout the process.
As a non-profit organization, Teach For Canada fundraises to cover all costs of our teacher recruitment, preparation, and support programming, along with all of our other organizational functions. At the present time approximately 41% of our annual funding comes from family foundations, 31% comes from corporate supporters, 27% from government (Employment and Social Development Canada) and 1% from individual donors. A full list of our donors can be found here.
Teach For Canada’s BN is 819967282RR0001
Teacher Application and Matching Process FAQ
Yes. Since 2009, provincial Labour Mobility Acts have enabled certified teachers to transfer certifications to other jurisdictions in Canada under the terms of the revised Agreement on Internal Trade. However, it is the responsibility of the individual teacher to transfer their teacher certification to the new province before September of the year that they are hoping to teach. You may also be asked to submit a copy of your certification and a statement of professional standing to Teach For Canada if you are certified in a jurisdiction without a public teacher registry.
Teach For Canada is proud to recruit a diverse range of applicants, and we encourage all teachers to consider applying. However, at a minimum, successful teachers must be:
- Certified to teach in a Canadian province by July of the year that they are hoping to teach
- have legal working status in Canada for two years
- able to relocate to a remote First Nation in Northern Ontario or Manitoba
- available to attend the Summer Enrichment Program
If you fulfill these requirements, we would love to learn more about you. You can learn more about the application process here. Unfortunately, Teach For Canada is not able to sponsor work visas or teaching certification at this time.
No. One of our goals is to increase teacher retention in the north, and each Teach For Canada teacher makes a minimum two-year teaching commitment to a northern First Nations school. However, we hope that you will consider applying to Teach For Canada when you feel ready to commit to teach for at least two years in a northern community.
Most northern First Nations communities do not have local schools that go beyond grade 10, and many schools only go to grade 8. Students from these communities must travel to larger centres to complete their high school studies. Teach For Canada focuses on JK-10 teachers to serve as many remote and Indigenous communities as possible. The only exception is the Keewaytinook Internet High School (KiHS), a blended in-person/online school that operates in several of Teach For Canada’s community partners.
KiHS stands for Keewaytinook Internet High School, an online high school launched by the Chiefs in Council in 1999, that works with First Nations in Northwestern Ontario. KiHS allows students to stay in their home First Nation while taking high school courses accredited by the Ontario Ministry of Education. With KiHS, teachers act as a mentor, guiding students through online learning modules. They also grade and instruct students from several remote First Nations in specific subjects through online tutorials. Some of Teach For Canada’s community partners also partner with KiHS. If teachers receive an offer from KiHS, they can learn more about this unique model from the principal. For example, where teachers live and work varies based on the community, so teachers can ask the principal about these specific details. Learn more about KiHS in the overview, including the differences with other high school models. Read the experiences of Teach For Canada KiHS teachers here and here.
You will teach in a First Nation in Northern Ontario or Manitoba. We currently work with 23 First Nations. During the interview and selection process, you will not know the First Nation in which you will teach. The matching process happens afterward. Partner First Nations identify their needs and reach out to the Teach For Canada teachers that have a specific fit with their school and community. Teachers then speak to the First Nation that has extended an offer to confirm that it will be a good mutual fit.
Every First Nation and teacher is unique, so our process works to allows teachers and communities to connect directly to establish their fit. Here’s how it works:
- We provide First Nation partners with an online database of selected teachers.
- Community leadership reviews teachers skills, education, interview videos, and preferences.
- First Nations reach out to teachers who they feel would fit well with their specific school and community.
- Teachers and community leaders then discuss the mutual fit. Sometimes a teacher receives offers from more than one community.
- Teachers accept an offer from a community.
Summer Enrichment Program FAQ
Teach For Canada teachers join us in the summer before they begin teaching for an intensive, community-focused Summer Enrichment Program, co-designed and led by education experts, experienced teachers, school and community leaders, and Elders. Among other topics, Teach For Canada teachers have multiple opportunities to engage in the histories and cultures of the communities in which they will teach. This includes meeting community members and current and former teachers to discuss the finer points of living in the specific First Nation. The Program also includes several workshops to help teachers become familiar with Indigenous pedagogies and ways of knowing, as well as workshops relating to wellness and self-care strategies.
The 2023 Summer Enrichment Program will take a hybrid approach, and include 15 hours of asynchronous online learning, followed by one week of in-person programming at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.
The in-person component of the Summer Enrichment Program will take place at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay from Sunday, July 16th to Saturday, July 23rd, 2023.
No. Teachers will not receive a salary during the Summer Enrichment Program.
Teacher Support FAQ
Teach For Canada has an Additional Qualifications and Professional Development subsidy program that teachers can apply to if they need to offset some of the costs of taking AQ/PD courses. AQ courses are regulated by the Ontario College of Teachers and will be added to a teacher’s list of qualifications on their teaching certificate upon successful completion of the course. Teach For Canada also considers other teacher Professional Development courses on a case-by-case basis.
During the school year, Teach For Canada’s Teacher Development Managers will help teachers problem-solve professional and personal challenges. Teachers will also have access to counselling services.
Teaching and Life in the North FAQ
The curriculum in Teach For Canada’s community partners is the standard provincial curriculum used in public schools. However, Teach For Canada teachers receive training at the Summer Enrichment Program on how to adapt the curriculum to make it relevant for students in remote and Indigenous communities.
Each school and community is different. Resources that tend to be available in each school include:
- TA in the classroom with the teacher
- SmartBoards, laptops, and tablets in the classroom
- Office with a secretary and staff room
- Special Education Teacher (school-wide) for high needs students
- Guidance or Social Counselor
Take a tour of a school!
Yes. There is space on the teacher application to indicate whether you’d be liked to be matched with your partner, should they also be a teacher. If you both meet Teach For Canada’s selection criteria, and if you are both selected to become Teach For Canada teachers, then we will ensure you are matched with a community that requires two teachers with your qualifications.
Yes. Many Teach For Canada teachers have brought non-teaching partners with them to the North. Each community’s specific needs and opportunities will differ, and so we expect that your partner will keep an open mind on how his/her skills can be used in the community. Throughout the community matching process, you, your partner, and the community work together to find a great fit.
Hear directly from a couple who went North together:
Many Teach For Canada teachers will stay in the classroom after their initial two-year commitment. For those who do not, they become Teach For Canada alumni and we will recruit, prepare, and support another teacher to take their place. We commit to a community and to a classroom over the long-term.
Just like with any other teacher in the school, your salary will depend on your years of teaching experience, your university experience, and the salary grid in the community. Each First Nation decides internally how to compensate teachers based on their community’s individual priorities and needs.
Salary ranges from $40,000 to $100,000 for certified teachers. Some of the higher salaries may be offered to the more in-demand positions, such as special education teachers. For a brand-new teacher who has recently graduated with a Bachelor of Education degree and has 0 years of experience, the beginning salary in First Nations schools in Northern Ontario and Manitoba is typically between $40,000 and $60,000. Northern living allowances can be as high as $4,000, ranging with the location of the community. Fly-in communities typically provide 2 round-trip flights from a major airport to the community.
Though the funding gap between First Nations schools and non-First Nations schools puts limitations on salaries, a new funding approach for First Nations K-12 education effective spring 2019 may help address some of those issues. Many First Nations will be able to provide more competitive salaries and benefits.
Sometimes. The school gym typically doubles as a school classroom and a fitness centre, because it is rare for a community to have a fitness centre with weights and equipment like treadmills. Teachers are typically able to engage in other types of fitness like jogging, hiking, canoeing, snowshoeing, playing hockey and other sports, and doing personal exercises at home. For entrepreneurial teachers who want to bring fitness equipment to the north for their students, grants are often available.
Hear directly from teachers about how they spend their spare time, including how they stay active:
In drive-in communities, teachers will typically drive to the nearby town or city to buy groceries every few weeks, and prices are comparable to major urban centres. In fly-in communities, most foods and produce are available but they are often higher-priced and can be more limited than in urban centres. Maintaining a vegetarian diet is possible, but it will require some planning ahead of time. More information on ordering foods or other items will be given during the Summer Enrichment Program.
Hear directly from teachers about what they eat in the North:
In most cases, yes. We will send you a survey before the full interviews where you can tell us more about your personal preferences, including a pet. For teachers who are selected to be part of the Teach For Canada program, this information will be provided to communities during the community matching process. If you have a pet and you are selected to teach in a fly-in community, you should contact your air travel provider to better understand their regulations for travelling with pets. If you fly with a larger-sized dog on Wasaya Airlines, you must book at least 48 hours in advance of the scheduled departure. The airline might also need to know certain information, like your dog’s breed and weight, and require that an airline-approved kennel be used.
In most cases, you would live in dedicated housing provided by the community for teachers. The accommodation is often called a teacherage, and it can vary from a single housing unit for each teacher to shared teacher accommodation within the same building. Single teachers or teaching couples will have their own bedroom and will often share living space. Teachers with families will work with the communities to find a teacherage with space to accommodate their needs. Rent varies by community, but it is typically below $600 per month per teacher.
The winter season can start sooner and last longer than in the more southern parts of Canada and temperatures do generally dip lower. In winter, the average daily temperature in Teach For Canada community partners is around – 20 C, but can dip below – 40 C on particularly cold days. That being said, it is a dry cold, meaning that if you dress warmly you will be fine, compared to Southern Ontario where it can feel like the cold goes right through your clothes, even when it is only a few degrees below zero. Also, there are many more opportunities to take advantage of the winter weather through a range of activities (e.g. snowshoeing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, etc.) than there can be in urban settings. For more details, see what strategies Teach For Canada teachers use to stay warm in winter:
Most teachers choose to go home over the holiday season, though some choose to stay in the community to celebrate. Sometimes there can also be the opportunity to leave the community during a cultural week in the fall and/or for winter break.
Some communities cover the cost of two return flights during the school year, a flight to and from the community at the beginning and end of the school year, as well as a second trip out (usually for the holidays). Some communities cover the cost of a flight to the nearest hub (e.g. Thunder Bay or Winnipeg), while others will cover the entire trip.
Teachers talk about how they handle homesickness and their strategies for keeping in touch with loved ones:
FAQ for Communities
Our Community Engagement team loves to hear from First Nations interested in working with Teach For Canada. Please visit our Become a Community Partner page, or contact Melissa Hoyt at firstname.lastname@example.org to begin a conversation.
Since 2015, Teach For Canada has worked with 350+ educators and reached 7,000+ First Nations children and youth. In the 2021-22 school year, 94% of teachers reported improved student achievement.
Check out the video below to learn more about the impact of Teach For Canada teachers.