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