REGINA, March 31 /CNW Telbec/ - Students at the First Nations University of Canada have been hung out to dry by Chuck Strahl, Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, who announced yesterday that the federal government will only provide funding for students at the University until the end of the academic year.
"Minister Strahl has exposed the federal government's contempt for Canada's Aboriginal peoples," said Thomas Roussin, representative of the National Aboriginal Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students. "Students at First Nations University need a future, not a five month contract."
Following years of difficulties the institution recently restructured and reached an agreement with the Government of Saskatchewan, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the University of Regina on principles for a new funding mechanism that will address issues of governance and make the institution more accountable. Shortly after reaching the agreement the government of Saskatchewan committed to restore funding; however without the federal government's $7.2 million annual contribution, the University cannot afford to keep its doors open.
"The federal government is ignoring its treaty obligation to fund Aboriginal education," added Roussin. "While the government of Saskatchewan has recognized the vital need for a First Nations institution, Ottawa is turning its back on the only such University in Canada."
First Nations University of Canada has been a symbol of leadership in Aboriginal post-secondary education to people around the world. The University serves as a model for Aboriginal controlled education. The Canadian Federation of Students and National Aboriginal Caucus have called on the government to honour their apology to the Residential School Survivors and increase funding to Aboriginal education and healing.
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 of Aboriginal students in Canada with members on campuses from St. John's to Victoria.
SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students
For further information: For further information: Thomas Roussin, National Aboriginal Caucus representative, (306) 596-6716