OTTAWA–The federal government’s decision to extend funding to First Nations University for another year buys time but leaves an uncertain future for many Aboriginal students.
“Students are relieved that First Nations University will be able to keep its doors open for another year,” said Cassandra Opikokew, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students. “However, the federal government must end the uncertainty and commit to sustained long-term, Aboriginal-controlled funding.”
Following years of difficulties, the federal and Saskatchewan governments cut funding to the University in February. Despite an institutional restructuring and the decision by the Saskatchewan government to restore funding, the federal government has refused to commit to funding beyond March 2011.
“While the government has stopped short of restoring permanent funding, we are one step closer to ensuring First Nations University has a future,” added Opikokew. “The restoration of funding is a clear sign that students’ actions are having an impact.”
The First Nations University of Canada is the only institution of its kind in Canada and has been a leader in Indigenous education for over 30 years. First Nations University was designed to be the home of treaty education and to serve as a model for First Nations-controlled education.
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 for Aboriginal students in Canada with members on campuses from St. John’s to Victoria.