Media Room

What is the First Nations Information Governance Centre?

The First Nations Information Governance Centre is Canada’s premier source of information about First Nations people living on reserve and in northern communities. An incorporated non-profit operating with a special mandate from the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in Assembly (Resolution #48, December 2009), FNIGC is committed to improving the health and well-being of First Nations people living in our 634 communities across the country.

FNIGC and its Regional Partners across Canada carry out unique data gathering initiatives about the lives of First Nations people. FNIGC recognizes that real change can come through sound policy-making, but only if it’s supported by quality information — information that is collected (and protected) by First Nations people for First Nations people.


What does FNIGC do?

FNIGC does a wide range of work including research, certification, and training but our core responsibility is conducting national surveys with our Regional Partners. These include the First Nations Regional Health Survey (FNRHS), the First Nations Regional Early Childhood, Education and Employment Survey (FNREEES), and the First Nations Community Survey.

The FNRHS (or RHS for short) was established in 1997 and is the only First Nations-governed national health survey in Canada. It collects information about First Nations health based on Western and traditional understandings of health and well-being. To learn more about the RHS go to the RHS section of our website.

The FNREEES (or REEES for short) launched in November 2013 in 250 First Nations communities. FNIGC's largest survey to date, the REEES collected a wide-range of information about First Nations children (0 to 11), youth (12 to 17) and adults (18 years and older), and will provide a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing First Nations communities. To learn more about the REEES, go to the REEES section of our website.

FNIGC receives funding for these surveys through agreements with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada, and Employment and Social Development Canada (formerly Human Resources and Skills Development Canada).

FNIGC’s survey work has been independently reviewed and verified by Harvard University (2006) and Johns Hopkins University (2012), which concluded that our methodology was “outstanding,” “excellent,” “superb” and “first-rate.” Harvard concluded:

"Compared to other national surveys of Indigenous people from around the world, the 2002/2003 RHS was unique in First Nations ownership of the research process, its explicit incorporation of First Nations values into the research design and in the intensive collaborative engagement of First Nations people and their representatives at each stage of the research process."

FNIGC is also home to OCAP®, a set of First Nation-designed principles that guide how research on First Nations people should be conducted and how the information, once gathered, should be stored. OCAP® (which stands for ownership, control, access, and possession) means that First Nations control data collection processes in their communities and that First Nations own, protect and control how their information is used. Access to First Nations data is important, and under OCAP® First Nation people determine how and when external researchers and academics are allowed to access and use their information.

The right of First Nations communities to own, control, access, and possess information about their peoples is fundamentally tied to self-determination and to the preservation and development of their culture. OCAP® allows a community to make decisions regarding why, how and by whom information is collected, used or shared.
To learn more about the First Nations principles of OCAP®, go to the OCAP® section of our website.

When was FNIGC established?

FNIGC came into being as an incorporated entity on April 22, 2010. But the history of the FNIGC stretches back to 1996 when a National Steering Committee was established by the Assembly of First Nations with the goal of creating a new national First Nations health survey. This was a response to the Federal Government’s decision in 1994 to exclude First Nations people living on-reserve from three major longitudinal surveys.

The result of this effort was the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey, a pilot project which took place in 1997 that collected more than 14,000 surveys from 181 First Nations communities and five Inuit communities. The pilot survey was intended to address First Nations and Inuit health and well-being issues, and acknowledged the need for First Nations and Inuit people to control their own health information.

In 2002 the First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey Phase 1 began, this time as a solely First Nations survey (the Inuit having decided to conduct their own survey) and adding the Yukon and Northwest Territories regions to the process. More than 22,600 surveys — representing 80 percent of the target sample — were collected in 238 First Nations communities during the RHS Phase 1. 

In 2008, data collection began for the First Nations Regional Health Survey Phase 2, which achieved 73 percent of the target sample with 21,757 surveys being collected in 217 First Nation communities.

In June 2011, FNIGC received a mandate from the Assembly of First Nations Chiefs in Assembly (Resolution 19, 2011) to conduct a new survey, the REEES. Data collection for the REEES began in November 2013 in 250 reserves and northern communities across Canada, and carried out by FNIGC Regional Partners and trained regional field workers.

Like FNIGC’s long-running and successful RHS, the REEES will collect quality information about First Nations communities using the First Nations principles of OCAP® that will be used to support decision-making in First Nations communities, governments and organizations. In addition it will help influence government policy that can help improve the lives of First Nations, men, women and children.

To learn more about FNIGC, follow the FNIGC Blog

Where is FNIGC located?

The FNIGC has two offices: its Head Office in Akwesasne, Ontario and one in Ottawa, Ontario. FNIGC works in collaboration with 10 Regional Partners, which are integral to carrying out its survey work.

For a complete list of staff, go to FNIGC’s Contact section of our site.

For information about job postings go to our Careers section.      

For more information about FNIGC, go to our FAQs.