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From an opinion piece by Richard Wagamese in the Kenora Daily Miner & News of May 22, 2010.

When it was established as a federated college through the University of Regina, the First Nations University of Canada was a beacon of hope. It offered First Nations students the opportunity to study within a framework that reflected their culture, history, languages and ceremony. This was critical. In an educational system that asked them throughout their student careers to follow outside standards and protocol many floundered, many quit and many gave up hope of ever getting the degrees they craved. FNUC allowed them to feel at home, to be surrounded by peers, to speak their languages and because of that, take straight aim at success.

In the time that I taught there I saw the light of possibility in every student’s eyes. That’s a powerful thing to be faced with. I saw youth encouraged and empowered by the presence of an institution that actually represented them and their identities. I saw a generation of potential leaders evolving under the gentle hands of an administration and faculty that understood their problems and their needs. I saw an entire student body learn to incorporate their traditional and cultural selves into a post secondary regime that’s daunting even for non-native students.

Read the full opinion piece in the Kenora Daily Miner & News.

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From an opinion piece by Jesse Rae Archibald-Barber published in the CAUT Bulletin of May, 2010.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper officially apologized in June 2008 to the tens of thousands of former students of the residential schools system. “We now recognize that it was wrong to separate children from rich and vibrant cultures and traditions — that it created a void in many lives and communities, and we apologize for having done this,” he said.

“There is no place in Canada for the attitudes that inspired the Indian Residential Schools system to ever prevail again. You have been working on recovering from this experience for a long time and in a very real sense, we are now joining you on this journey.”

Last month, faculty of the First Nations University of Canada gathered to showcase the academic ex­cellence of the school. If anything, this place, this school, provides a way of recovering from past educational policies that the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs im­posed on First Nations communities throughout the history of this country.

Read the full opinion piece in the CAUT Bulletin.

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From a letter by Catherine Verrall published in the Leader-Post of April 20, 2010.

Late that night, in a special sharing circle, we heard the wisdom and vision and determination of the students. We told them: “The whole world is watching you . . . as you peacefully demand that this world-unique university and its values survive stronger than ever . . . for the well-being of all our children, and the planet. We are so inspired by you and so honoured to be welcomed here.”

FNUniv students made a respectful move-in to their university home. They have vowed to stay until the federal government fulfills its responsibility and restores full funding. Only then can this priceless university continue into the future, beyond Aug. 31.

Read the full letter in the Leader-Post.

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From an article by Stephen LaRose published on rabble.ca on April 13, 2010.

The province has agreed to bring back its funding — after FNUC signed a four-year deal with the University of Regina, allowing the university to handle FNUC’s money, which was where many of the battles over FNUC’s control by the FSIN occurred, and which was roasted in Westerlund’s report.

But Ottawa has thought otherwise. Four days after the chiefs’ congress removed the board of governors, Strahl announced that INAC would suspend its $7.2 million operating payment to the college. The transitional funding announced March 30 probably pays for the severance packages of professors, who will be eagerly picked up by other universities and colleges in Canada. As for the students, they get squat.

“In reality, it means the end of First Nations University,” says Jim Turk, the executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers. (Officials from FNUC, the student council and officials from the FSIN were unavailable for comment as the story went to press.)

Strahl’s announcement does little good for FNUC’s current students. Take Swan, for example. FNUC has one of the three aboriginal linguistics programs in Canada he requires to earn his degree in his area of specialization. But if and when FNUC closes its doors, Strahl’s plan calls for students enrolled in his program to move to another university. Except, in Swan’s case, the nearest university — the U of Regina — doesn’t have an indigenous studies department, so where does he go to complete his education?

Read the full article on rabble.ca.

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From an article by Patrick White in the Globe and Mail of Tuesday, April 13, 2010.

At a celebration of the school’s academic research on Wednesday, teachers will lecture on topics ranging from the geometry of teepees to songbirds to native plants. It’s part of an effort to persuade Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl that the university is a serious academic institution that deserves to have its funding restored.

“Minister Strahl has made some degrading comments about the university in the last few months and he’s really off base there,” said Jesse Archibald-Barber, an English professor at the school who will give a lecture comparing Mr. Strahl with Duncan Campbell Scott, the head of Indian Affairs between 1913 and 1932 who championed native residential schools. “This conference is a response to those remarks and him calling into question our academic integrity. We have the largest concentration of first nations PhDs in the country. It’s frightening to think that could just dissipate.”

Read the full article in the Globe and Mail.

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A message from First Nations University Board of Governors chair Joely Bigeagle:

Good morning FNUniv students, staff and faculty,

Currently, we are facing some difficult and overwhelming challenges with respect to restructuring and downsizing. The board is currently reviewing a business case strategy addressing the short and mid-term plans of FNUniv.

At this time we all need to rely on our ceremonies and culture to lean on.

Fortunately, Reona Brass, Dr. Oliver Brass’s daughter, has the insight to ask for a sweat for the women this Sunday April 11 at 1:00 pm at the Paul Dojack centre area. I invite all the women and ask that you ask our supporters to come to the sweat, bring food and tobacco and cloth if needed. I am requesting that the men, if they feel it is necessary, prepare a sweat for the men due to the extreme stresses and pressures we are all under.

There will be another women’s ceremony this month as well as another co-ed ceremony to be announced later, as outcomes of the last sweat of March 20. Please forgive the message as presented via email vs in person as is customary and preferred.

I will provide a formal Board of Governors update in the following weeks.

Joely BigEagle, Chair
FNUniv Board of Governors

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First Nations University Drama Group
in conjunction with the Student Association
are pleased to present …

“Heartbeat”

an original play

To bring unity and recognition to
First Nations University of Canada

E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts
in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 15, 2010
admission by donation

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