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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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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.

-30-

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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OTTAWA, June 2 /CNW Telbec/ – Today, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo welcomed an announcement by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Chuck Strahl that he will restore $4 Million in funding to the First Nations University (FNUniv), which will cover expenses from Sept. 1 to March 31.

“This is good news for students, and First Nations across Canada who deeply value the First Nations University and who, until now, have been concerned about the future of this institution,” said National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo. “It’s an acknowledgement from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Chuck Strahl that many improvements have been made to ensure the future accountability and sustainability of the First Nations University.”

The National Chief also congratulated students, the Interim Board of Governors, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and AFN Regional Chief Guy Lonechild for their clear and strong commitment to FNUniv.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information: Alain Garon, Bilingual Communications Officer, (613) 292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca; Jenna Young, Communications Officer, Assembly of First Nations, (613) 314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

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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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Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) News Release

(Ottawa, June 2, 2010) The organization that represents more than 65,000 academic staff at 122 universities and colleges across Canada is pleased with today’s federal government announcement that it will provide up to an additional $4 million in funding for the First Nations University of Canada, but warns that a commitment on long-term core funding is essential to the institution’s survival.

Indian and Northern Affairs minister Chuck Strahl announced today that the “transitional” funding would be provided through the Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP).

“We are pleased that the federal government has stepped in with enough funding for this vital institution to survive until March 31, 2011,” said CAUT’s executive director James Turk.

“But the only way First Nations University can be assured of any real future is with a federal government willingness to restore long-term core funding,” he added. “No university can survive short-term project funding, which makes it impossible for the institution, faculty and students to plan ahead.”

“It is simply impossible to ensure four year student programs when you don’t know what funding you will have from year-to-year,” he added.

Turk said he was disappointed that despite today’s announcement, significant lay-offs will still be taking place.

This spring more than 2,000 academics signed onto an open letter circulated by CAUT calling on the federal government to fully restore funding for the university.

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