Bernard Valcourt told chiefs in Winnipeg on Wednesday that the government doesn't know when the work will be done or how much it will cost. Bunibonibee Cree Nation, God's Lake, Manto Sipi Cree and Wasagamack First Nations are the recipients of the federal cash.
The money is to come from a $500-million education infrastructure fund, Valcourt said.
"We should be able to go to design some time this year and hopefully be able to go to tender in the next couple of years," he said. "This is an investment in the future of the children of these First Nations."
Building or renovating all northern reserve schools at once makes sense because it will save money on construction materials and shipping costs, Valcourt added.
Chief Gilbert Andrews of God's Lake First Nation welcomed the news.
"I've been after a new school for over 20 years," he said. "We're going in the right direction for our students."