April 13, 2010

Open letter to Stephen Harper regarding First Nations University


April 2010

The Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Prime Minister:

In June 2008 you did what no prime minister before has been willing to do – offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools. In that apology you noted that “Two primary objectives of the residential schools system were to remove and isolate children from the influence of their homes, families, traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the dominant culture.”

Now, less than two years later, your government is forcing the closure of Canada’s only First Nations university -- the sole university in Canada based on First Nations traditions and cultures. By refusing to restore full funding for First Nations University, your government will now make it impossible for First Nations university students to study in an institution based on First Nations traditions and cultures.

There is a bitter irony in your government’s action, coming as it does after the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) has addressed all of the concerns that have been expressed about the University’s governance structure and after the FSIN, the First Nations University, the University of Regina and the Government of Saskatchewan have entered into a partnership agreement to ensure proper financial and administrative management of First Nations University.

Your government’s refusal to restore full funding, which will cause the University to close after August 31, 2010, is an act of disrespect to First Nations peoples in Canada and a continuation of the very practices for which you apologized in June, 2008.

We urge you to back up your 2008 apology by restoring full Federal funding to First Nations University immediately so that it can grow and expand, not have to wind down and close.
Yours truly,
TO ADD YOUR NAME TO THIS OPEN LETTER, GO TO: http://www.caut.ca/fnuc/

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