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Archive for March, 2010

From an article posted on CBC.ca on March 31, 2010.

Shane Keepnes, an FNUC student, is worried about the university’s future and said the money promised is not enough.

“I really want to continue on and I really have high hopes for this institution, but $3 million just isn’t going to cut it,” he said. What about enrolment in the fall? Students that want to come to this great institution might not have that opportunity, so the funding really needs to be extended.”

“What is not clear to us, and is not completely evident, is whether all of the planned reforms that are being talked about are going to happen,” Strahl said. “They’ve got other issues that so far have not been addressed, including things like severance packages, outstanding debt, money that has gone missing and a bunch of other academic problems.”

The money, provided from the Indian Studies Support Program, won’t flow directly to FNUC, Strahl said.

“FNU is an institution in a lot of trouble and it has to run their programming and their financing and their accountability through the University of Regina,” Strahl said. “And so the money that we will make available will have to flow through the University of Regina.”

Sources said the money is for student programming and not intended to repay the aboriginal school’s debt or to cover operational costs.

FNUC is still trying to negotiate a deal with the federal government that would see its $7 million a year in funding reinstated.

“Three million dollars is a slap in the face to the students,” said Diane Adams, president of FNUC’s students association. “It’s purely a tactic to slow the death of the [school].

“It does not offer any kind of support to the students. It does not protect the students and the students here are tired of the federal government telling them what is good for them.”

Read more at CBC.ca.

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Please sign the open letter prepared by CAUT at http://www.caut.ca/fnuc/default.aspx?page=1

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From an article posted on the News Talk 980 site on March 31, 2010.

It could be the first step forward. The federal government is providing $3 million to help the First Nations University students through the academic year. But is it enough?

Minister Rob Norris calls the money from Ottawa encouraging. And he believes it’s a result of the work done to ensure a partnership between the FNUC and the University of Regina, “I am pleased with the efforts the partners have put forward.”

Read the full post at NewsTalk980.com.

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REGINA, March 31 /CNW Telbec/ – Students at the First Nations University of Canada have been hung out to dry by Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, who announced yesterday that the federal government will only provide funding for students at the University until the end of the academic year.

“Minister Strahl has exposed the federal government’s contempt for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples,” said Thomas Roussin, representative of the National Aboriginal Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Students at First Nations University need a future, not a five month contract.”

Following years of difficulties the institution recently restructured and reached an agreement with the Government of Saskatchewan, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the University of Regina on principles for a new funding mechanism that will address issues of governance and make the institution more accountable. Shortly after reaching the agreement the government of Saskatchewan committed to restore funding; however without the federal government’s $7.2 million annual contribution, the University cannot afford to keep its doors open.

“The federal government is ignoring its treaty obligation to fund Aboriginal education,” added Roussin. “While the government of Saskatchewan has recognized the vital need for a First Nations institution, Ottawa is turning its back on the only such University in Canada.”

First Nations University of Canada has been a symbol of leadership in Aboriginal post-secondary education to people around the world. The University serves as a model for Aboriginal controlled education. The Canadian Federation of Students and National Aboriginal Caucus have called on the government to honour their apology to the Residential School Survivors and increase funding to Aboriginal education and healing.

Founded in 1981, the Canadian Federation of Students is Canada’s largest student organisation, uniting more that one-half million students from ten provinces. The National Aboriginal Caucus is the voice of Aboriginal students in Canada with members on campuses from St. John’s to Victoria.

For further information: Thomas Roussin, National Aboriginal Caucus representative, (306) 596-6716

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From an article by June Taber in the Globe and Mail of March 31, 2010.

Students at the country’s only aboriginal-run university will be able to complete their school year with a $3-million pledge from the Harper government. After that, however, it is not clear that Ottawa will continue its funding of the university.

“What’s not clear to us,” said Mr. Strahl, “and is not completely evident is whether all of the planned reforms that are being talked about are going to happen or whether it’s doable.”

He said he has heard promise before.

“We’ve been promised that big reforms are coming, that new financial arrangements are going to be in place, new checks and balances.

“That is to be hoped for,” he said.

Read the full article in the Globe and Mail.

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From an article in the Leader-Post of March 31, 2010.

This morning, Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl confirmed one-time funding of $3 million for First Nations University but warned that no more funds will be available for FNUniv until an agreement on the university’s long-term governance and program structure is reached. The province of Saskatchewan, the University of Regina, and a First Nations advisory council are all working on putting such a deal in place.

“My message to students remains the same as it has all along. We’re determined to help them finish their academic year,” Strahl told reporters on Parliament Hill on Wednesday.

Read the full article in the Leader-Post.

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For Immediate Release: March 31, 2010

(Saskatoon SK): Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Guy Lonechild termed the First Nations University funding announcement by federal government “a step in the right direction with a long way to travel.”

“The decision by the Government of Canada to provide interim funding is a signal that the federal government recognizes the valuable role of First Nations University,” said FSIN Chief Guy Lonechild.

“That being said, our goal was, and our goal remains, a long term, sustainable funding agreement with the Government of Canada,” stated the Chief. “It is through long term core funding that we can ensure First Nations University is equipped to carry out its pivotal role for First Nations people and for all Canadians.”

The interim agreement with the Government of Canada follows on the heels of the Memorandum of Understanding being signed by First Nations University, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, the University of Regina and the Saskatchewan government on March 23, 2010.

“When the MOU was signed by the four provincial partners, we said it was an excellent step in the right direction. At that time, we also said it was crucial that the federal government join with the provincial partners. We are now part way down that path,” said Chief Lonechild.

“The commitment of FSIN to effective governance and a strong First Nations University means we will continue to work with federal government officials until we have a long term sustainable agreement in place,” concluded Chief Lonechild.

The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan. The Federation is committed to honouring the spirit and intent of Treaty, as well as the promotion, protection and implementation of the Treaty promises that were made more than a century ago.

-30-

For More Information Please Contact:
Mervin Brass, Executive Director of Communications
Direct: 306.956-1026
Cellular: 306.220-7187
Email: mervin.brass@fsin.com

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