Govt to Shut Down 1st Nations University: you can help stop it

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Govt to Shut Down 1st Nations University: you can help stop it

The Federal Government has announced that they're going to cancel its grant to First Nations University, which will mean the closure of the school by April 1st of this year.  But there's plenty we can do to stop it from happening.


1)  Check out the video: 4 Friends: First Nations University of Canada, listen, and follow their advice.

2)  Go to the Friends of First Nations University blog, and sign their petition.


More information/context below, in a message from Jim Turk, Executive Director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

After five years of pressure and ultimately censure by CAUT, the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (the body that created the First Nations University which is a federated college of the University of Regina) voted to reform the inappropriate governance structure of the University.  The FSIN dissolved the Board of Governors, suspended the President and the Vice-President - Administration and appointed an interim board consistent with the 2005 recommendations of the FSIN's own All Chiefs Task Force.  CAUT had strongly supported those recommendations.

Three days after the FSIN finally took decisive action to remedy the longstanding problems at FNUC, the Federal Government announced it was cutting off its annual $7.2-million grant to the University as of March 31, 2010.  This will mean the end of FNUC.  All of us were astounded that the Federal Government, after not having said a thing about the serious problems at FNUC for five years, cut off funding after the problems were resolved.

CAUT has quickly undertaken a massive lobbying campaign to get the Federal $7.2-million funding restored. We brought to Ottawa this past week Prof. Randy Lundy, Chair of the FNUC Academic Council, and Diane Adams, President of the FNUC Student Association. The two of them, along with Guy Lonechild, the newly elected Grand Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations; Brenda Merasty, from the Assembly of First Nations; and I had  a whirlwind series of meetings Wednesday and Thursday with Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe, Leader of the Opposition Michael Ignatieff, NDP Leader Jack Layton , all of the opposition critics for Indian Affairs and for Post-Secondary Education.  We then met with Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl to press him to restore the $7.2-million in funding for FNUC by March 31.

Our Communications Officer, Kerry Pither, arranged for Randy and Diane to be on Canada AM.  She arranged for Chief Lonechild to be on two CBC TV programs.  Diane was also interviewed on the Parliamentary Channel. The opposition leaders pledged the support of their parties to the restoration of funding.  Each of the parties has subsequently taken a number of actions to express their support. Questions have been asked in the House of Commons.  The matter will be brought up in Parliamentary Committees this week.  Opposition leaders will be pressing the Government inside and outside the House of Commons.

Strahl refused to make a commitment to restore the funding.  We had a news conference afterwards in which we announced his position and we all made clear that (1) the FSIN had fixed the problems that caused CAUT to censure the university and others to criticize; (2) FNUC, FSIN and the University of Regina had put together a transitional management arrangement that would allow U of R to over see financial matters for a period of four years after which full control would revert to FNUC; (3) the University will have to close on March 31, 2010 unless the Feds restore the $7.2-million; (4) and the FSIN, AFN, CAUT announced that they would not take no for an answer and were going to do everything possible to ensure the funding is restored by March 31.

Media stories have started appearing following our press conference.  Here is a sample.

Montreal Gazette

CBC w' Evan Soloman

Global Toronto

The Province

Global Regina

The Star Phoenix

LF Press

We will be stepping up the pressure over the next few days with an object of ensuring that the Federal Government commits to the restoration of funding before the deadline of March 31, 2010.

It would be very helpful if you would write to Strahl, your member of parliament, and any other members of parliament you wish, to press for the restoration of the $7.2-million by March 31, 2010.  If the commitment is not made, the University will have to give notice to all its faculty and staff as it will not be able to meet payroll.

Your writing or emailing MPs can make a difference.  Please take a few minutes to help. Emails and addresses for all MPs can be found here.

Your intervention can make a difference. We have very little time.

- Jim Turk


My apologies, as I see 2 threads were started previously about this topic:

- Feb 4th Sask. cuts funding to FNU

- Feb 8th Federal Govt eliminates funding for FNU

If mods want to merge the threads, leave them where they are, or move this (maybe to the Activism section?), any of these are cool with me.

"Specialty programs" (humanities, critical race theory, aboriginal studies, feminist theory and so on) are under attack across Canada right now as Uni govt and the Federal/provincial govt decide where they're going to "pare down or scale back."  In most universities it's happening in piecemeal incrementalist fashion, department by department, but this would be an entire University gone.

Support 1st Nations University online petition.


Thanks OMeNerves. Signed the petition. And I hope there will be anti-Canadian apartheid week rallies and meetings at some point. This is disgraceful.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

Yes I signed that petition too but I think that a true gesture of correcting the misappropriation of funds "accusations" would be rectified by removing every member of administration "being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in lieu of annual leave, contrary to the university's policy", and those that claimed expenses during trips to "Las Vegas and Hawaii and other travel expenses."


I strongly believe that the only First Nations University in the country should not be shut down ESPECIALLY due to the squandering of funds intended for students. 

Those who are responsible should be held accountable.  Low-income students should not have to pay for the trips to Las Vegas and expenses of those in administration making hundreds of thousands of dollars on the backs of students.

These more than a thousand students should not lose their school because of the greed of a few Administrators that were running it.


Fidel – I hope there will be anti-Canadian apartheid week rallies and meetings at some point. This is disgraceful.


I agree entirely with ^^^this^^^.


Lonewolfbunn - These more than a thousand students should not lose their school because of the greed of a few Administrators that were running it.


Excellent point!  And I think it’s worth highlighting a key word here: “were.”  It’s my understanding from Turk’s message above that the dissolution of the Board of Governors, the suspension of the Pres and Vice-Pres admin, as well as the appointment of the interim board were a huge part of beginning to address those problems.  Honestly, I find it telling and typical that the govt only chose to cut funding (3 days!) after the restructuring. 

Jim Turk: Three days after the FSIN finally took decisive action to remedy the longstanding problems at FNUC, the Federal Government announced it was cutting off its annual $7.2-million grant to the University as of March 31, 2010… [they] cut off funding after the problems were resolved.


If I’m wearing my tinfoil right, the attempted closure’s consistent with a micro-management/attack model: eg. “keep ‘em busy ‘til we shut ‘em down.”  To my mind, the govt is attempting to take advantage of a period of instability…

Either that, or the restructuring of FNU displeases the federal govt which is fully invested in and complicit with structurally-entrenched cronyism (more likely).  OR, they were planning to cut funding anyway, and then had to rush it after the school showed they were fixing the problems.

Whatever the reasons for the funding being pulled, the racism in this is blatant and overwhelmingly transparent.  It’s an attack on students and their teachers first.  Profs won’t get paid and I doubt the students’ll be able to get refunds if their school gets shut down next month.  And maybe that’s part of the plan?

How many profs will be out of a job with no notice?  How many students will suddenly have to find the cash and time to apply to other schools?  How many won’t be able to find another job or school?  And speaking as an education student, what’s the implicit curriculum on display here?  As Fidel pointed out, this is part-and-parcel of another project.  It's a literal devaluing of indigenous knowledges and people.  (Worth thinking about - UofT president what’s-his-name pays himself umpteen-thousand dollars a month, while the govt and mass media says, “meh”). 

Thank you both for responding to this! 

remind remind's picture

sems like there is getting to be a few signatures on the petition, eh!

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

Hi OMeNerves, just thought I'd let you know the third link in post #1 (your second post) doesn't work.


It's not the first U in Canada to be shut down by government: Notre Dame University in Nelson BC was shut down in the 80s after, I believe, the faculty went on strike

From Wikipedia:

Although the University attracted sufficient numbers of students, it encountered financial difficulties, partially as a result of being the first university in Canada to endorse a faculty labour union, and in 1977, at the request of the Notre Dame Board of Directors, the Province of British Columbia assumed control, renaming it the David Thompson University Centre and placing it under the administration of the University of Victoria. In spite of its local and regional popularity, the provincial government found the per-student cost too high and closed it in 1984.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

Okay... I will have to reword my statement.  Thank you for digging up that fact.  Better to find out now than later.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

Okay... I  changed 4 words.  It is now 100% accurate.

lonewolfbunn lonewolfbunn's picture

Other than during the months nearing an election the government couldn't care less about the opinions of it's own citizens.

So this is a pebble I have been throwing upon the ponds of distant shores.  The ripple of opinion by other countries is felt like a wave by our government that fears embarrassment upon the world stage.


No Canadian university has ever been shut down without justification in Canadian History. So the Canadian Government will make history if they such down the First Nations University as intended but they will only be perpetuating history by stifling the prosperity of First Nations people.
This is just another example of Canadian government oppression upon First Nations people but one that you can help to stop regardless of what country you are from.

"If the education gap between aboriginals and non-aboriginal Canadians were to close by 2017, an additional 71 Billion dollars would be injected into the economy."

So what is the motive for the Canadian Government to further drive a wedge into the education gap?
Are they attempting to repeat history by impeding the progress of First Nations people (and silencing our true history as taught by aboriginal professors and elders at FNU) via a history making measure?

According to Indian and Northern Affairs Minister, Chuck Strahl, funding is being cut because of problems such as too many Board members.
After the relatively sudden condition was imposed it was reached by downsizing the Board that oversees over 1000 students, by reducing them from 26 members to 11.

Yet is is still not enough.
The decision to cut funding was made three days AFTER the recommendations were met.
Letters from citizens of other countries will let the Canadian Government know, the eyes of the world are upon them and diplomacy is a reality that will not be ignored or silenced.

I would also like to point out that there has been misappropriation of funds by those in the highest level of administration at FNU however they have been removed.

These more than one thousand students composed of people from various nationalities should not lose their school because of the greed of a few Administrators and/or the oppressive hand of the Canadian Government.

[url=]This Link will let you know how a few minutes of your time can help beyond measure[/url]


First Nations University needs public funding- site to write letters linked from blog above.


it is awful what dominant ethnicities can do to other cultures and peoples.

Oppressed cultures need support.