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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 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.

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From an article by Jennifer Graham in the Globe and Mail of Wednesday, June 2, 2010.

The minister [Chuck Strahl] said he’s encouraged by the university’s progress so far and looks forward to seeing it become increasingly stable, both in its finances and in its governance. The funding depends on continued reform.

“I reinforced that in a letter to them today to say that those milestones must be reached. We can’t slide back, because this has happened before, unfortunately,” he said.

There is hope for the university beyond next spring, he added.

“We wouldn’t be putting $7 million into it if we didn’t think it had a long-term future,” Mr. Strahl said.

Liberal MP Ralph Goodale, who represents the Regina riding where First Nations University is located, said the new money is a step in the right direction, but added that the school needs long-term, sustainable financing. It can’t depend on “hand-to-mouth funding,” Mr. Goodale said.

Read the full article in the Globe and Mail.

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For immediate release
Date: June 2, 2010

Goodale Calls for Long-Term Support of First Nations University of Canada

OTTAWA – Following the announcement earlier today of a federal commitment to invest up to a maximum of $4 million in transitional funding to First Nations University of Canada, Wascana Member of Parliament Ralph Goodale renewed calls on the government for long-term, sustainable funding of this important institution.

“Today the government acknowledged the hard work of FNUC’s new administration and the community support surrounding this unique university,” said Mr. Goodale. “Though this commitment is a step in the right direction, the future of this institution will depend on more than hand-to-mouth funding. We need to keep the pressure on the government until FNUC receives long-term financial security.”

-30-

Video of Mr. Goodale’s question available upon request.

Official Transcript from the House of Commons:

Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.): Mr. Speaker, after about a dozen inquires from this side of the House and a tremendous amount of effort on the part of First Nations University, the government is now offering some financial certainty for one coming year. That is welcome, but it is not sufficient.

First Nations University has corrected its situation and has earned the support of the provincial government, the University of Regina, the Regina and Saskatchewan Chambers of Commerce, the Canadian Association of University Teachers and others.

When does the minister expect to be in a position to make a long-term financial commitment to First Nations University?

Daniel Lauzon
Office of the Honourable Ralph Goodale, M.P., Opposition House Leader
Cabinet de l’honorable Ralph Goodale, député, Leader de l’opposition à la Chambre
Tel: 613-943-4995
Email: lauzoD@parl.gc.ca

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From an article by Pamela Roth in the Vancouver Sun of April 15, 2010.

Following a meeting Thursday morning between FNUniv President Shauneen Pete and Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, Goodale questioned the minister in the House of Commons about a long-term financial plan to extend funding for the school permanently beyond August.

Goodale said for the minister to even sit down and look at the sustainable business plan, along with details on time frames, structures and dollar figures, appears to be a step toward finding solutions, rather than just saying “no.”

“I’ve asked the question about the future of FNUniv five or six times. Most often, the answer coming back is quite flippant and dismissive. I detected a distinct shift in the government’s position — I think a shift for the better,” said Goodale.

“It isn’t over until it’s over, but this is certainly better that where it was a month or six weeks ago. What I am sensing from the government now is ‘let’s work on solutions rather than just walk away.’ ”

Read the full article in the Vancouver Sun.

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March 30, 2010

Dear Mr. Strahl and Mr. Harper:

I write on behalf of the Council of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, a scholarly organization with over 700 members from scores of countries and Indigenous nations, to express concern over what is happening to the faculty, staff, and students of the First Nations University of Canada. We are a governing council of Indigenous scholars from North America, Hawai’i, Aotearoa New Zealand, and Australia. We represent a membership that includes upwards of 200 Canadian citizens. We unanimously regard the planned closing of First Nations University, the only Aboriginal university in Canada, as a threat to Indigenous higher education everywhere.

The problems at First Nations University are real, of course, but so is the commitment of those dedicated to turning around this situation. Because we are convinced of the seriousness of that commitment, we support the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in its good faith initiation of the changes required to bring the governance structures at First Nations University into conformity with those of other Canadian universities. As you know, a working group with representation from all stakeholder groups is currently developing a revised funding and governance model for First Nations University. You are certainly also aware that the University of Regina has expressed its willingness to support First Nations University. We also want you to know that our association is willing to provide appropriate support, including help in identifying from among the dozens of program and department administrators and university officials in our membership those who might be of assistance.

We join concerned scholars and students around the world who are following the crisis at First Nations University. We hope that our letter and the many others you are receiving will convince you that your government’s current course of action will in the long run be detrimental to all Aboriginal people, to the province of Saskatchewan, and to Canada’s international reputation. A university represents some of the best hopes and highest ideals for a brighter Indigenous future. We ask that you recognize those hopes as you proceed.

We thus urge you, in the strongest terms, to support the continued operation of First Nations University.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. Please contact me at 217-418-8879 or rwarrior@illinois.edu if you would like to follow up directly.

Very truly yours,
Robert Warrior
President
Native American and Indigenous Studies Association
Professor of American Indian Studies, History, and English
Director, American Indian Studies
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

C: Todd Russell; Rob Clarke; Jean Crowder; Randy Hoback; Ralph Goodale; Ed Komarnicki; Lillian Dyck; Tom Lukiwski; Rob Norris; Gerry Ritz; Brad Wall; Andrew Scheer; Cam Broten; Brad Trost; Kelly Block; Maurice Vellacott; Ray Boughen; Lynne Yelich; Garry Breitkreuz; Edward Doolittle; David Anderson; Maggie Walter

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From an article by Kerry Benjoe in the Leader-Post of March 27, 2010.

“We have language, business, (education), nursing, science and, with $7.2 million, we were already running under budget, so we need all the money flowing to this institution,” [said Cadmus Delorme, vice-president of communications for the FNUniv student association].

Delorme is calling on Strahl to hold true to his word, that the federal government would act only after the province did.

“It’s time for the federal government to follow suit,” he said.

Delorme said the students heard rumours that Strahl would be in Regina to attend the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, held at the Conexus Arts Centre Friday evening.

In anticipation of that possible visit Delorme and the students created their own cheque made out to the FNUniv for $7.2 million.

“All we’re missing is his signature,” said Delorme.

Read the full article in the Leader-Post.

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