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From an article by Alex Boutilier in Metro Halifax of June 22, 2010.

A handful of student activists were on hand at Halifax MP Megan Leslie’s NDP constituency office yesterday, urging the federal government to provide permanent funding to the First Nations University in Saskatchewan.

Seven members of the Canadian Federation of Students presented a letter, addressed to Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, to Leslie’s constituency assistant.

“First Nations University plays an important role in encouraging aboriginal students to pursue post-secondary studies,” said Elise Graham, CFS Nova Scotia chairwoman.

Read more at metronews.ca.

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From an opinion piece by Murray Mandryk in the Regina Leader-Post of June 5, 2010.

No one acted more admirably than Cadmus Delorme and the other students, who immediately took the fight to the assembly of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.

Along with dedicated FNUC teachers such as Randy Lundy, they didn’t quit until the funding was restored this week.

The entire First Nations community should be proud them. We all should.

But absolutely no one deserves more praise than FSIN Chief Guy Lonechild.

Read more in the Leader-Post.

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From a posting by Ryan Pilon on the News Talk 650 CKOM web site, posted June 15, 2010.

Atleo says the university is vital to the future of the First Nations people.

“If we are able to close the education gap in a 10 year time frame, it would mean more than 70 billion contributions by First Nations to the Canadian economy.”

Read more on the News Talk 650 CKOM web site.

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Media Release

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2010

FSIN Chiefs in Assembly Approve First Nations University Amendments

(Saskatoon SK): The Chiefs in Assembly of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) has approved a series of amendments to the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) Act last Thursday, June 10, 2010.

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Guy Lonechild said, “This legislative amendment is a very significant step forward for First Nations University. It represents tremendous commitment on the part of the partners in the process and the culmination of months of intense work by all of them. In my role as FSIN Chief, I applaud those efforts. Success has been achieved because all of us, as partners, did precisely what we committed to accomplish.”

The amendments to the First Nations University (FNUniv) Act of Canada approved by the Chiefs in Assembly last week include the following: reducing the Board of Governors from twenty-one members to nine, appointing Board members based on skills and experience, thereby depoliticizing it, implementing best practices in Board governance, and allowing for national representation.

“Throughout the past few months, FSIN has been completely supportive of the efforts of all the partners to achieve significant improvements in governance, accountability and financial stewardship for First Nations University,” said Chief Lonechild.

In February 2010, an FSIN resolution established an Interim Board of Governors for First Nations University. The Interim Board’s mandate was to increase the level of financial stability and address governance issues as outlined in the All Chiefs Task Force and the Dr. Manley Begay Report. Later that month, FSIN assisted in the establishment of a technical working group that was mandated to develop a series of working agreements for the partners. A Memorandum of Understanding between the partners was finalized in March, at which time provincial funding was reinstated.

In March and April, the First Nations University Interim Board of Governors submitted an Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP) proposal as well as a business plan. As a result of those applications, the Government of Canada reinstated a total of up to $7 Million under the ISSP envelope.

“Throughout those months, our role, as FSIN leadership, has been to continuously communicate to the federal Minister and Members of Parliament the pivotal role of First Nations University. Above all, we conveyed the overriding need to address the long term interests of First Nations University students,” stated 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.

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For More Information Visit www.fsin.com

Mervin Brass, Executive Director of Communications
Direct: 306.956.1026
Cellular: 306.220.7187
Email BlackBerry: mervin.brass@fsin.com

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From an article by Kerry Benjoe in the Leader-Post of Friday, June 11, 2010.

Joely BigEagle, chairwoman of the FNUniv board of govenors said it’s been a long and difficult process to keep the doors of the university open. She reminded everyone that the fight is not over.

“There is a lot of work ahead of us and I know we’re working on tight timeframes,” said BigEagle. “We’re still going through restructuring. We’re still going through downsizing. We have deficits for this year.”

She said last year’s projected deficit is much higher than anticipated because of the funding was pulled during the semester and restructuring the institute has been costly.

Read the full article in the Leader-Post.

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URFA is pleased for the students, faculty and staff as the announcement of $4M funding meets most of FNUniv’s requirements for this budget year. However, funding needs to be stabilized so that it does not flow through annual granting programs such as the Indian Student Support Program (ISSP) in order for the university to plan with predictability for its future growth. No other Canadian university operates its core programs on the basis of annual grants that must be applied for and this mechanism perpetuates FNniv’s financial jeopardy.

At a time when the Aboriginal population has the greatest growth rate in Canada, this institution should be looking to expand programs, not reduce them. The provincial and federal governments have a responsibility to ensure that the chronic under funding of FNUniv is addressed as they look at ways of dealing with structure and governance.

Contacts:
Dr. Miguel Sanchez, Interim Chair, URFA, 306-585-4378
Patricia Fleming, Executive Director, URFA, 306-585-4586

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Canadian Federation of Students

Thursday, June 03, 2010
OTTAWA–

The federal government’s decision to extend funding to First Nations University for another year buys time but leaves an uncertain future for many Aboriginal students.

“Students are relieved that First Nations University will be able to keep its doors open for another year,” said Cassandra Opikokew, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students. “However, the federal government must end the uncertainty and commit to sustained long-term, Aboriginal-controlled funding.”

Following years of difficulties, the federal and Saskatchewan governments cut funding to the University in February. Despite an institutional restructuring and the decision by the Saskatchewan government to restore funding, the federal government has refused to commit to funding beyond March 2011.

“While the government has stopped short of restoring permanent funding, we are one step closer to ensuring First Nations University has a future,” added Opikokew. “The restoration of funding is a clear sign that students’ actions are having an impact.”

The First Nations University of Canada is the only institution of its kind in Canada and has been a leader in Indigenous education for over 30 years. First Nations University was designed to be the home of treaty education and to serve as a model for First Nations-controlled education.

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 for Aboriginal students in Canada with members on campuses from St. John’s to Victoria.

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Contact: Cassandra Opikokew, National Aboriginal Caucus Chair
Tel: 306-537-2043

Contact: Dave Molenhuis, Canadian Federation of Students National Chairperson
Tel: 613-232-7394

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