From an article by Tim Switzer in the Vancouver Sun of Wednesday, June 2, 2010.
On Wednesday, staff and students at FNUniv breathed a collective sigh of relief when Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl announced the federal government would provide the embattled school with $4 million to cover costs from Sept. 1 to March 31.
“I really hold the First Nations University dear to my heart,” said soon-to-be-third-year business student Rebecca Sangwais while sitting behind the counter at Kohkum Bea’s convenience store at FNUniv. “I didn’t realize at first how awesome this university is and the support system it offers. I was worried that it would be shutting down.
“I’m really overjoyed to know we’re going to be here for another year and hopefully for the future.”
The next step is for the university to secure long-term, sustainable funding. The $4-million offer, like the $3 million provided by the federal government to see students through the end of August, comes from the Indian Studies Support Program and comes with conditions that FNUniv meets milestones for governance and accountability changes.
FNUniv president Shauneen Pete was not made available to speak to the media Wednesday, but said in a news release that the “board of governors has committed an extraordinary effort to restore governance and accountability structures.”
She also noted that, while funding is back near the level it was in February when over $12 million was pulled from the university by the federal and provincial governments following years of allegations of financial mismanagement and political interference, there are still dollars that can be saved.
Liberal Ralph Goodale, the local MP, cautiously applauded the move.
“It’s a good sign, but it’s not a guarantee and that’s what’s really required here,” said Goodale. “Hopefully, all of the partners here will use the time that’s available here to put into place an arrangement that will last a long time on a sound and credible financial basis.”
Read the full article in the Vancouver Sun.