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.
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