Federal government must commit funding now to end the devastating uncertainty
facing First Nations University of Canada faculty and students

OTTAWA, May 7 /CNW Telbec/ - The organization that represents more than 65,000 academic staff at 122 universities and colleges across Canada is renewing its call on the federal government to fully restore sustained funding for the First Nations University of Canada.

The federal government has so far only committed a one-time injection of $3 million through the Indian Studies Support Program (ISSP), and has yet to respond to an application for an additional $4.2 million from the program.

This week the university announced that because of financial uncertainty, it was closing and selling off its Saskatoon campus, and has begun issuing lay off notices to staff at all campuses.

"The waiting and uncertainty is taking a devastating toll on faculty and students, and we need to see the federal government move quickly to resolve this crisis" said Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) executive director James L. Turk.

Turk says he is troubled by the shift from discussions around sustained, long term funding to short term funding through the ISSP.

"The first step is ending the short term crisis and keeping the university open with that $4.2 million from the federal government," he said.

"The next very crucial step will be ensuring that all the governments involved - the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, the Saskatchewan government and the Federal government - move beyond discussing short term funding models to ensure the long term viability of this unique institution."

"Without a commitment to long term sustained funding from the federal government, I fear we are going to see Canada's only First Nations university cutting more programs and being downgraded to a training facility or to an indigenous studies department of the University of Regina," he continued.

"No university in Canada," he added, "is funded on short-term project money. It is impossible to ensure four year student programs when you don't know what funding you will have from year-to-year."

SOURCE Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

For further information: For further information: James L. Turk, (613) 277-0488 (cell)

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Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

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