FIRST NATIONS OPENS" - Ghislain Picard

ODANAK, QC, Nov. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - It was in the presence of Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First  Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Pierre Corbeil, Quebec's Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, representatives of the federal government, Dawson College, Cégep de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue and partnering companies Sono Vidéo and Polycom that the First Nations Education Council today announced the creation of a collegial studies centre, an important component in the founding of the new First  Nations Post-secondary Institution. "Today, a new door to the future of First Nations opens", declared Chief Ghislain Picard at a press conference attended by some fifty First Nations members.

"The institution, to be established in Odanak, will quickly become a source of pride for our nations. It will ensure the emergence of a new generation of leaders for our communities", asserted Lise Bastien, Director General of the FNEC.

The First Nations Post-secondary Institution aims to provide an education that will cater to the immediate and long-term needs of the communities in terms of human resources. Its opening, scheduled in September 2011, will be accompanied by preparatory sessions for collegial studies to facilitate transition from the secondary to the post-secondary level. Through partnership with Dawson College and Cégep de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the institution will provide a unique bilingual program, namely the First  Nations Social Sciences program, accredited by Quebec's Education Department (ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport, MELS) and leading to a Diploma of Collegial Studies. The two Cégep partners have demonstrated hard work, rigor and passion, over the past five years, in helping the FNEC to achieve this project.

In the footsteps of Manitou

The new post-secondary institution echoes recollections of the Manitou College, operational for some five years before its sudden closing in the middle of the 1970s. This closing severely impacted First Nations human resource development. "The short experience of Manitou College had demonstrated the usefulness of such institutions in the development of our communities. The new institution again gives us the opportunity to provide First Nations youth with equitable access to post-secondary studies", indicated Lise Bastien.

Private sector support

The FNEC would like to highlight the significant support provided by Sono Vidéo and Polycom, two private companies that had already demonstrated their interest for this project at the 2006 Mashteuiatsh Socioeconomic Forum. Sono Vidéo committed to provide a mobile videoconference system as well as wiring services, amounting to $25,000. Polycom will offer two videoconference systems free of charge, representing a contribution of $20,000. The FNEC warmly thanks these important partners in the success of the FNPI students.

Governmental support

The FNEC would also like to underline the contributions of the governments of Quebec and Canada respectively, as pledged at the 2006 Mashteuiatsh Socioeconomic Forum. The government of Quebec contributed, via MELS and the Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones, to overall logistics expenses amounting to 65%-70% of the annual budget of the FNPI. The Canadian government will provide an approved single amount of $201,000 for capital assets.

Last but certainly not least, the FNEC would like to highlight the commitment of the community of Odanak in this endeavour, notably by taking part in the construction of the institution's building. This building will not only support the advancement of First Nations education, but will also embody an economic development tool for the Abenaki community.

SOURCE Cardinal Communication

For further information: For further information:

Éric Cardinal
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(450) 638-5159     
Cellphone: (514) 258-2315     

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