First Nations University to Close


 
The Federal Government has announced it would stop funding the First Nations University of Canada in Regina, in effect, causing the closure of the unique educational institute. The university specializes in programs on Native culture and history and has the largest concentration of aboriginal programs anywhere in the world. Its student body of 1,000, includes non-Natives. Only 3% of Native Canadians hold university degree, compared to 18% for the total population. The Canadian government professes to promote an equal-opportunity society. It also believes that education is the key to social mobility. Ottawa’s announcement that it would cut funds to the university is a slap in the face to the core beliefs it alleges to maintain. The university is expected to shut its doors on April 1. Mr. Harper, please tell us the funding cut is an April Fool’s joke.


 
The Federal Government has announced it would stop funding the First Nations University of Canada in Regina, in effect, causing the closure of the unique educational institute. The university specializes in programs on Native culture and history and has the largest concentration of aboriginal programs anywhere in the world. Its student body of 1,000, includes non-Natives. Only 3% of Native Canadians hold university degree, compared to 18% for the total population. The Canadian government professes to promote an equal-opportunity society. It also believes that education is the key to social mobility. Ottawa’s announcement that it would cut funds to the university is a slap in the face to the core beliefs it alleges to maintain. The university is expected to shut its doors on April 1. Mr. Harper, please tell us the funding cut is an April Fool’s joke.

Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations
Chief Guy Lonechild urges the Federal Government to Support FNUC

Tuesday, 23 March 2010
 

(Saskatoon SK): Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Chief Guy Lonechild has confirmed that a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by the First Nations University, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, the University of Regina and the Saskatchewan government on the First Nations University.

“Today’s announcement is concrete evidence of our commitment to a partnership framework that creates accountability and stability,” stated Chief Lonechild. “We are doing precisely what we indicated we would accomplish. That is, we are making continued, significant progress toward effective governance and a strong First Nations University.”

The Memorandum of Understanding will see provincial dollars for First Nations University flow as conditions are met.

“This is an excellent step in the right direction,” concluded Chief Lonechild. “The stated commitment on the part of Saskatchewan Advanced Education Employment and Labour Minister Norris to strongly urge the federal government to follow the provincial lead is yet another important step. It is now crucially important that the federal government show its commitment to the future of our students.”

FNUC official fired, President among those officials accused of misspending
By Jason Warick, The StarPhoenix March 20, 2010

First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) president Charles Pratt, one of several top officials embroiled in allegations of misspending earlier this year, has been fired with cause, says the university’s board chair.

"We believe that action was warranted. We do believe that he failed to satisfactorily perform his duties," said Joely BigEagle, chair of the board of governors.

BigEagle declined to give the reasons behind the firing, which was decided at a Thursday night board meeting in Saskatoon. Pratt had been on leave since Feb. 8.

A source who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, said the allegations of inappropriate hirings, spending, travel and payouts detailed in a report by the university’s former chief financial officer formed the basis for the firing.

BigEagle said the board is working hard to work out a new funding arrangement for the school.

Earlier this year, Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris announced the provincial government would cease its more than $5 million in annual funding to the school due to stalled reforms. The announcement took many by surprise, as it came as the delegates of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) were debating, and later approved, the reforms.

Shortly after, the federal government followed suit and gave notice it would stop contributing more than $7 million a year to FNUC.

University officials said the school will close its doors at the end of this month unless funding is restored.

Norris has been open to a new funding arrangement, which cedes most control to the University of Regina. Federal Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, however, has said repeatedly the federal decision is final.

Despite these pronouncements, BigEagle said the board remains hopeful.

"We’re progressing forward. We’re doing our best," she said.


FNUC funding hopes dashed
CBC News, 16 March 2010

The federal government has not changed its mind about cutting funding to the First Nations University of Canada, the Saskatchewan government learned Tuesday.

Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris spoke with Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl Tuesday morning, but the discussion did not go well, Norris told reporters later.

Strahl would not reverse his decision to end Ottawa’s $7.2-million grant to the university.

When he announced the cut last month, Strahl said serious problems at the university have dragged on for years with no resolution in sight. He also referred to the $5-million provincial funding cut already announced by Norris.

Since then, First Nations University has scrambled to stay alive.

Its owners, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, moved quickly, dissolving the board of governors, appointing a new board and agreeing to a shared-management arrangement with the University of Regina, whose main campus is next door.

Shared management would mean the U of R would handle First Nations University university’s finances, but First Nations University would remain an independent academic institution.

However, the proposal hasn’t been formally approved by the U of R, a situation Norris said left him in a weak position talking with Strahl. Without a signed deal between the U of R and the smaller university, Norris said there wasn’t much he could say.

The minister’s dismal report dashed the hopes of students and FNUC faculty who had gathered at the legislature for the latest news.

Restoration of federal funding was seen as a catalyst for getting the university on a stable financial footing and possibly winning back the provincial commitment as well.

Randy Lundy, a spokesman for the First Nations University faculty association, said Norris should have pushed Strahl harder to reinstate the money.

"He should be our biggest supporter at this point, as the minister of advanced education," Lundy said. "He should be going to Chuck Strahl and saying the $7.2 million needs to be on the table and it needs to be restored."

Norris said he’s been working hard for the university and believes that even without the main federal grant, there may be some funding available from Ottawa for specific programs.

However, Lundy said it’s impossible to run a university on such an uncertain source of cash.

12 comments
  1. Simply Incomprehensible

    Why will the only First Nations University be axed?

    It’s simply incomprehensible. On the contrary, the Federal government, the corporate world and individuals must invest to keep this very vital institution to not only survive, but expand and branch out in every single province.

    Shame on the Federal government.

    As an immigrant I feel profoundly hurt.

  2. Publicity Stunt…?

    I think this is a publicity stunt. They seem to be targeting different cultures for more enrollment and exposure for the university. This will be free publicity for them, via supporters on websites, community sites, etc.

    I will not be surprised to see this university still exist in 2015…I surely hope so!

  3. Case of discrimination?

    The Federal Government supports and finances Catholic schools, yet they are letting the only First Nations University close down?!! isn’t this a pure case of discrimination?

    I am not against Catholics or religion, but I think you have to support all Christian schools or none.
    This is not the only case, there are several such decisions that need to be revisited.

    The government can take a look at the overall education system in Canada and surely they can find some organizational methods where they can generate financing options for the university. e.g.: if they start charging for school books in public and Catholic schools, that will surely generate enough money to support multiple universities.

  4. Surely there are ways

    Surely there are ways to address the crisis. Would you destroy a whole garden because of one or two rotten trees?

    Haven’t we seen this scenario of mismanagement at the highest level in the corporate world? Yet the CEOs get awarded for the plunders they caused.

    This native institution must be saved for the benefit of not only the cultural richness of Canada but the world at large.

  5. Closure of First Nations University

    Surely something can be done to prevent this from happening?  Post-secondary education is so important for all Canadians; we should be doing all we can to encourage aboriginal students, who must often face great difficulties to reach university level, given our already inadequate investment in education for those living on reserves, or at a distance from urban centres.
  6. Discrimination

     
    It is unfortunate that students eager to learn, build a future, and become positive members of society, are having their education brought to a halt due to practices of a corrupt administration.

    The First Nation population remains one of the most underprivileged racial groups in Canada. To close this university down is to subject the Aboriginal people again to the injustices of colonization.

    These are discriminatory measures taken out by the Federal Government, as the closing of the school specifically targets the Aboriginal community by creating barriers to social and educational opportunities. For many of these students there are no other options to post-secondary education, this school is their lifeline.

  7. Speak UP-Speak OFTEN-Speak LOUD

    I am currently completing my MEd at the University of Saskatchewan, and for the first time in my educational career, I am being given the chance to learn from an Indigenous perspective from Aboriginal professors. As part of the rest of my degree, I wanted to attend the First Nations University of Canada to get a sense of what it would be like to be in a school that has a completely different perspective than any other school in Canada can offer. As a current/future educator in Canada, I cannot express how important I think this is to my career.

    I am sad that this may not be possible for me. I am angry that this has not been covered by the media enough so that people understand what impact this institution of learning could have on Saskatchewan, or Canada, or the world, and further what devestating effects the closing of its doors will have. How typical of what is deemed important! This is an issue that is regarding the understanding and continuance of a different perspective, different understanding, and a different knowledge base from what is accepted in mainstream society. I am frustrated that the powers that be are not trying to work with First Nations University to work out the issues, and instead are threatening to close the doors as a solution.

    I’ve sent my letter, and I’ve forwarded the video. It is currently March 22nd, and it will be a sad day in Canada if April 1st marks the end of this learning institution.

  8. Really, and thousand times shame

    Really, and thousand times shame on this racist and "Corporate" government to cut all educational fundings not only from the aboriginals but also all over the provinces of Canada.

    Why? Is there not enough funding for the military so they are cutting from education?

    Don’t we need to have educated generations in this country? And to think that all  suffering nations were looking forward to be Canadians….

  9. Simply…correct

    A good move on the part of the Province and the federal gov’ts, and a strong message sent especially in the wake of other undertakings that wasted taxpayers’ $$ (e.g. sponsorship scandal).

    Too much time was given to FNUC to address their problems (e.g. over a year ago the CAUT censured the institution: wake up call?). Funding cuts were the only reasonable correct response to this wasted time.

    Glad to see my tax dollars diverted to other national programs that can run accountably. FNUC students have other choices of "nonracist classrooms" in Canada: e.g. some Canadian universities have student populations that are almost 20-30% aboriginal, and nationally known programs in First Nations studies, aboriginal counselling, teacher training, etc.

  10. FNUC shut down

    I am not certain if all the facts are on the table also not certain what FNUC can teach differently than all other universities do, I don’t see Italian or Greek or any other ethnic university in Canada, only private schools yet their language is taught everywhere.

    In my humble opinion, federally funded schools for the First Nation students should help preserve their culture, and adding their university level teachings to ours will make us all a better society by understanding each other.

    Respectfully,

    Paul

  11. FNUC Funding Restored… Sort Of

    The First Nations University of Canada will receive provincial funding once again. The government has signed a four-year agreement with the school that will see it partner with the University of Regina, who will oversee the finances.

    Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris calls this agreement a blueprint for the future of the school, but conditions will still have to be met to keep the doors open.

    Norris plans to aggressively lobby the federal government to restore its funding to the institution. Both governments cut off their funding last month amidst allegations of financial irregularities and mismanagement.

  12. First Nations University to Close

    As a good citizen, I felt my duty to read the material on Keghart about the issue of the First Nations University.
     
    It is quite clear from the comments that The First Nations Univ has been allowed to be badly mismanaged over a number of years.  The governments involved finally have decided to do something effective to wake everybody up by cutting the sources of corruption – money, while at the same time measures have been taken through another university to sustain the operation of the First Nations Univ or its interests.
     

    I do not see what the big fuss is all about.  In the process, everyone as usual seems to be pushing his/her own private horse forward in the name of upholding a universally good cause.

    Artin Boghossian.

     

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