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Archive for April, 2010

FIRST NATIONS UNIVERSITY: WHY OTTAWA MUST RESTORE FUNDING

Posted by strattof on April 2, 2010

Last month the provincial and federal governments announced that, as of the end of March, they were withdrawing their funding from First Nations University. Issues of governance and financial management were, in both cases, cited as the reason.

Earlier this week, the provincial government announced it was reinstating its $5.2 million in annual funding. The announcement came after a formal agreement had been reached on a new funding arrangement for First Nations University. We applaud Premier Brad Wall and his government for making the right decision.

To date, the federal government has not reversed its decision to withhold $7.5 million in annual funding.  Without this amount, First Nations University will cease to function.

6 REASONS WHY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MUST RESTORE FUNDING

#1. Governance and management issues have been addressed. The Board of Governors has been depoliticized. Senior administrators have been replaced. A shared management agreement has been signed with the University of Regina, which will administer First Nations University funding for 3 years. What more does the federal government want?   

#2. First Nations University is a young institution. Established in 1976, it is a mere 34 years old. Growing pains are inevitable. Moreover, it is only in the last 5 years that First Nations University has had any governance or management problems. Its record over the first 29 years of its existence is exemplary. Nor does First Nations University have a monopoly on slip-ups or blunders. As its forced resort to deficit financing indicates, even federal governments sometimes make mistakes. 

#3. First Nations University is a first class academic institution. At no time during the past 5 crisis-ridden years have the academic standards of First Nations University ever been in question. Here are some of its academic accomplishments: ●3,027 graduates ●An alumni that includes doctors, nurses, dentists, lawyers, artists, social workers, teachers, and civil servants ●Also one Rhodes Scholar ●23 academic departments offering certificates, diplomas, undergraduate degrees and graduate programs ●The largest concentration of programs in Indigenous languages, cultures, and history in the world ●More PhD-holding faculty members of Aboriginal descent than any other university in Canada.

#4. The programs offered at First Nations University are unique. First Nations University is the only postsecondary institution in Canada to incorporate First Nations values and perspectives into all of its programs. Given the residential school legacy, it is essential that Aboriginal students be given the opportunity to learn in an environment that is self-affirming. Many non-Aboriginal students (nearly 300 this semester alone) also take courses at First Nations University. With the knowledge they acquire, they are uniquely well-equipped to live and work in Canadian society. 

#5.  First Nations University helps to close the economic gap between First Nations and non-Aboriginal families. 1 First Nations child in every 4 lives in poverty, compared to 1 in 6 other Canadian children. Success in education is a way to break the poverty cycle. Only 8% of First Nations have completed university, compared with 23% for the non-Aboriginal population. First Nations students face barriers, such as discrimination and inappropriate cultural content, in mainstream postsecondary institutions. First Nations University makes education accessible, relevant, and responsive to First Nations students.

#6. We all need First Nations University. It brings millions of dollars into the provincial economy. ●Local merchants benefit from the purchasing power of its faculty and students. ●It enhances Regina’s cultural landscape. ●It provides unique educational opportunities for both First Nations and non-Aboriginal students. ●It is helping to repair the damage done to First Nations families and communities by the residential school system. ●It is helping to provide Canada with a well-educated First Nations population. ●It is helping to ensure that Saskatchewan has a bright future.

HELP SAVE FIRST NATIONS UNIVERSITY

Phone Prime Minister Stephen Harper and tell him you want his government to restore funding to First Nations University: 613-992-4211

Leave the same message for your Member of Parliament: Ray Boughen, Palliser–790-4646; Ralph Goodale, Wascana–585-2202; Tom Lukiwski, Regina-Lumsden-Lake Centre–790-4747; Andrew Scheer, Regina Qu’Appelle–790-4727. 

MAKING PEACE VIGIL March 25 2010

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STEPHEN HARPER ELIMINATES POVERTY IN CANADA

Posted by strattof on April 2, 2010

STEPHEN HARPER AT THE VIGIL

STEPHEN HARPER AT THE VIGIL

In a special televised broadcast, Prime Minister Harper announced yesterday that his government had eliminated poverty in Canada.  “It wasn’t all that difficult,” the Prime Minister said. “We just imagined Canada without poverty.” “Canada will be poverty-free,” he promised, “as long as the Conservative Party is in power.”

Mr. Harper thanked the members of his caucus for all their hard work on the anti-poverty file. He also struck out at the opposition Liberals, asking why they had done so little to overcome poverty during their thirteen year tenure in government.  

Send Stephen Harper a congratulatory message: pm@pm.gc.ca or 613-992-4211.

BETTER THAN OLYMPIC GOLD  

Messages of congratulations continue to pour into the Prime Minister’s office, one coming from US president Barack Obama, requesting a meeting with Harper so he can “learn from the Canadian experience.”  

For Canadians, it is a proud moment. While a number of wealthy nations have successfully implemented poverty reduction programs, Canada is the first country ever to eliminate poverty.

The Prime Minister voiced the sentiment of many Canadians when he said: “Eliminating poverty is even better than winning Olympic medals.”

HOW DID CANADA DO IT?

● The government established a federal minimum wage, set at $12 and indexed to inflation. 

● It restored EI eligibility requirements to 360 hours.

● It implemented a national affordable housing program with an annual budget of $2.5 billion.

● It removed the 2% cap on funding increases for the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs and indexed increases for First Nations programs to inflation and population growth, retroactive to 1996, the year the cap was introduced.    

● It increased the Canada Child Tax Benefit from $3,300 to $5,000. 

● It increased the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors from $7,831 to $10,000.

● It established a guaranteed income system for persons with disabilities.  

● It implemented a regulated, universal, publically-funded early learning and child care program.

A BLUE SWEATER DAY

Mr. Harper delivered the good-news message wearing his iconic blue sweater-vest. Initially Canadians viewed the sweater as a cynical ploy to soften Stephen Harper’s image. Recently, however, the blue sweater, along with its owner, has come to be identified with social justice initiatives.   

DIGNITY FOR ALL 

A former champion of free market policies, Mr. Harper was asked to explain his about face. “It was a long time coming,” he said, “but I finally found my inner Mother Theresa.”  

The Prime Minister also credited Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism with opening his eyes to “the real human costs of free market policies.” Finally, he paid tribute to the anti-poverty campaign Dignity For All.  So impressed was Mr. Harper by the work of this non-profit organization that he has hired its director as his economic advisor: http://www.dignityforall.ca

TWISTED ECONOMIC LOGIC

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation was quick to condemn the govern-ment’s anti-poverty legislation, citing increased budget deficits and tax hikes as predictable outcomes.

However, according to Mr. Harper, eliminating poverty will be relatively painless. It will be paid for in two ways: 1) by reversing the 2% cut to the GST, which will restore $10 billion annually to the national coffers; and 2) by slashing the annual $20 billion military budget by 50%, taking it back to 1980 levels.   

The Prime Minister referred to the views of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as “twisted economic logic.” “In a nation with a total annual income of $1.6 trillion,” he asked rhetorically, “how can we not be able to eliminate poverty?”

Poverty is the worst form of violence. Mahatma Gandhi

MAKING PEACE VIGIL April 1 2010

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