While the National Indigenous Accreditation Board (NIAB) was formed in 2009, our organization has its roots within an earlier movement. During the mid-1990s, Indigenous educators from Okanagan, Treaty No. 6 and Treaty No. 7 territories came together and envisioned a system of reviewing and validating education programs through the application of Indigenous knowledge systems. The discussions quickly turned to action and in 1995, the First Nations Accreditation Board (FNAB) was established. Over the next several years Board members developed the infrastructure to support the work of the accreditation body.
In 2008, the National Association of Indigenous Institutes of Higher Learning (NAIIHL) discussed the need for a national Indigenous accreditation body, resulting in the 2009 transformation of FNAB into the National Indigenous Accreditation Board. In addition to offering institutional accreditation, NIAB has also developed a process for the accreditation of specific education programs. NIAB is served by a Board of Directors who are elected or appointed by membership from five geographical regions. Through our collective efforts, we are gifted with opportunities to contribute to the realization of the dreams held by those early visionaries.
“There are huge resources of knowledge that exist within Indigenous Peoples. Every person has a right to this knowledge. . . An Indigenous perspective has to be acknowledged, respected and legitimized. We have to present our body of knowledge and thinking through an Indigenous controlled accreditation board. Indigenous experts and specialists will define the content and process, validating our knowledge for the benefit of all our Peoples.”
The Late Don Fiddler
First Nations Accreditation Board
We, the descendants of the Indigenous inhabitants of this continent, are many Peoples. We celebrate the diversity of our ways as a source of strength within our nations, and as the wellspring of respect between our nations; for the right of each of us to be who we are involves the freedom to follow our own consciences, beliefs, and customs, and the surest way to secure this right for ourselves is to recognize it in other human beings with our ways. Thus, in diversity we find unity; unity of mind, unity of purpose, and unity of practice.
Our unity of mind is not the narrow dogma of one of the many competing visions of the universe. It is the realization that nothing is barred from consideration as long as it does not obtrude into the lives of others. From this unity arises our respect for the earth, upon which we all depend; our respect for the ways and opinions of others, even if we do not share those ways; and our commitment to reasoned discourse as the means to resolve disputes.
Our unity of purpose is to ensure that our ways, as well as the ways of others, will endure. From this unity grows our knowledge that in respecting others we respect ourselves; our capacity to appreciate each other as we are; and our resolve not to see our ways shattered into thousands of unrelated fragments.
Our unity of practice is to uphold these ideals, live them to the best of our abilities, and assure their continuation in our forms of life. From this unity arises our responsibility to our present generations and generations yet unborn, and our gratitude to the generations that came before us; our reliance on example and persuasion rather than authority and force when change is contemplated; and our determination to explore the limits of our own understanding.
These are the things which once affirmed, no longer have need of explanation. They are the common grounds we bestow to one another, the starting points of our deliberations, and the shelter from which we can, with confidence, undertake the journeys of our lives.
We, the Indigenous members of the National Indigenous Accreditation Board, as representatives of Nation based institutions of Indigenous education,
- Respecting and directing our own self-determination;
- Desiring to ensure quality education to our Peoples which maintains and enhances our sovereign and collective identities, languages, and cultures; and
- Recognizing that the validation of our education initiatives is a political process
do hereby create our own mechanism and process to accredit and certify Indigenous programs of studies and accredit institutions which meet the standards we hereafter collectively identify and describe.
The primary goal is to serve Indigenous owned and controlled educational institutions. The primary service is to assess an institution or a program of study in terms of its achievements, congruence to stated goals and objectives and affirm it is culturally relevant and accountable to the Indigenous Nation and Peoples it serves.
The philosophy of the National Indigenous Accreditation Board is founded on the principles upheld by the Elders of our respective Indigenous Nations and addresses the essential elements from the Declaration of the First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium Council (FNAHEC) of Elders (2010) and the Turtle Lodge Treaty: “Our way of life” Indigenous Education (2013). We choose to guide our future development from the following philosophical tenets:
We believe that as Indigenous Peoples, the Creator has given to us a way of life and natural laws which govern our relationship to all living things.
We believe that the Creator has entrusted to us the responsibility of being keepers of the land; of living in harmony and oneness with each other and maintaining a balance with all things in the environment. Our knowledge and customs are understood and practiced through our relationship to our lands and in that way it protects and ensures our continuance and survival.
Our Mother Earth is the living embodiment of our spirituality and nourishes us in all ways: physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional.
Our spirituality is a sacred trust. The values of our people are contained in our teachings. It is through our values that we live under the instructions of our Creator that forms the foundation of our survival. Therefore, our sacred responsibility is to protect our spirituality, cultures, languages, and lands.
In consideration of the sacred responsibilities given to us by the Creator, upheld through our Treaties, cultures and languages which continue to be perpetuated through our Elders/ Knowledge Keepers, we are committed to:
- Provide the educational needs and programs of Indigenous Peoples with full
participation by the Elders, the parents, and the Nation(s) we serve;
- Actualize the mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and social well-being of our people by preserving and re-enforcing Indigenous culture, practices and teachings that elicit the collective and individual;
- Develop and implement education programs which focus on the needs of the Indigenous Nation(s) and are controlled and monitored at the Nation level; and
- Affirm our right to maintain and develop education practices and programs that are grounded in inherent and Treaty understandings and are reflective of our cultures and languages.