Dear Minister Strahl
Your recent decision to withdraw $7.2 million dollars in core funding to the First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) has drastic consequences and I ask that you reverse it.
FNUC is a world leader in Indigenous Education. It began teaching in the areas of Indian social work, Indian art, and Indian languages over 30 years ago. Within the sciences, for example, two unique bachelor degree programs (the Environmental Health & Science program and the Resource & Environmental Studies program) which incorporate First Nations traditional knowledge and culture have been developed. Furthermore, FNUC is involved research funded by Health Canada into the environmental and health impacts from environmental chemicals in First Nations Communities. This program, the National First Nations Environmental Contaminants Program is the only such program in Canada. These unparalleled science educational and research programs will end unless you restore operational funding to FNUC.
The University of Regina (UofR) and the FNUC have reached an agreement concerning the management of FNUC finances. The president of the UofR, Dr. Vianne Timmons, states that “The University of Regina has agreed to the principles of a shared management model where the stewardship of the administrative and financial management of FNUniv is placed with the University of Regina through a contractual relationship for a four-year period.” Please allow sufficient time for the partners to submit a written MOU to your office.
Federal funding for FNUC has been guaranteed annually under the Indian Studies Support Program for funding First Nation post-secondary institutions. Please honor the federal obligation to fund the FNUC.
All the steps required to make FNUC more open, transparent and accountable have been taken. The financial administration of FNUC is now being overseen by UofR. The administrative difficulties have also been rectified. The structure of the board of governors has been changed. It has been depoliticized and downsized. A new interim Chair and new board members have been appointed. The new board has fired the President of FNUC.
Please reverse your decision and restore the $7.2 million funding for FNUC the upcoming year.
Senator Lillian E. Dyck