Prof. Dr. Hartmut Lutz, Amerikanistik/Kanadistik, Univ. Greifswald, Steinbeckerstr. 15, D-17487 Greifswald
Tel.: +49 (0) 38 34 – 86 33 53
Fax: +49 (0) 38 34 – 86 33 66
Privat: Nr. 23, D-17390 Bömitz, Germany
Greifswald, den 25.02.2010
Support for First Nations University of Canada
Dear Madam or Sir,
With over 600 members from universities and schools in Austria, Switzerland and Germany, the Association for Canadian Studies in the German Speaking Countries (GKS: Gesellschaft für Kanada-Studien) is the second largest national Canadian Studies association outside North America (after India). We are organized in seven scholarly disciplines and represent over twenty Canadian Studies Centres and Programs as well as hundreds of individual scholars.
Much of our research and many of our publications are focused on First Nations, Inuit and Métis issues. For years, we have enjoyed excellent ties between some of our members and First Nations University of Canada. For at least twenty years our members have visited First Nations University (or the former Saskatchewan Indian Federated College) as students, researchers and teachers, and many members of First Nations University have been involved with our institutions as visiting professors (e.g. the late director of the fine arts program, Professor Bob Boyer) and researchers (e.g: Professor Jo-Ann Episkenew, the first Aboriginal scholar from Canada to receive a PhD from a German university).
As Canadianists, we have always been appreciative and even proud of Canada’s achievements in managing cultural diversity, and we have seen with great empathy and understanding Canada’s many attempts to acknowledge and atone for the painful historical legacies of internal colonialism, especially in the field of education (residential schools). We have also witnessed with empathy and regret, the problems encountered by First Nations University in the most recent years, and we have sympathized with the energetic attempts by the university’s academics, administrators and students, to overcome the difficulties they had. Even during times of great adversity, our colleagues in Saskatchewan have energetically continued their work as researchers, teachers and administrators totally commited to Aboriginal self-determination in higher education, and we applaud all their efforts to pursue and develop Indigenous knowledge well into the future.
Canada often takes great pride in promoting the continued sovereignty and self-determination of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples as foundational members in the Canadian cultural mosaic. This message was strongly sent to all nations of the world during the preparations for and the opening of the Winter Olympics this month. Against this background,and at the precise moment, when Canada is publicly celebrating First Nations cultures flourishing in BC, it seems particularly surprising and even shocking that both levels of the Canadian government have decided to withdraw funding from the only Indigenous university of the world, unless it give up its sovereignty and return to the colonialist practice of being ruled by a non-Indigenous institution (U of R.).
On behalf of the GKS and its hundreds of members, and on behalf of continued international academic relations between First Nations University’s scholars and students, we most emphatically ask you to reconsider your truly historical and very fateful decision.
Prof. Dr. Hartmut Lutz,
President of the Association for Canadians Studies
in the German Speaking Countries