Aboriginals in desperate fight to save university
Published Thursday, March 11, 2010 5:38PM EST
Students and staff from Canada's only Aboriginal university are pleading with the federal government to restore funding, saying the school will run out of money by the end of the month if something doesn't change.
In February, Ottawa announced it would not renew about $7 million in funding to the First Nations University of Canada because of governance and finance concerns at the Regina-based institution. The Saskatchewan government had cut $5.2 million in funding the previous week.
On Wednesday, the Saskatchewan Chiefs agreed to change the management structure of the school so that funding will now be administered through the University of Regina.
Professor Randy Lundy, the chair of the First Nations University of Canada Academic Council and Diane Adams, president of the First Nations University Students Association are in Ottawa Thursday to meet with Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl and make their case.
"What the governments are asking for the five years is accountability and transparency in our finances, and the shared management model really offers these things," Adams told CTV's Canada AM.
"We are just hoping that they are going to honour the fact that we have done our part and keep funding us so we can stay open. This university is too important to lose right now."
Part of the government's financing concerns came after it was discovered a $400,000 scholarship fund was being used inappropriately and much of the money could not be accounted for.
"What happened with the scholarship fund was part of the previous administration who will be replaced." Lundy said.
The Saskatchewan Chiefs have already placed senior administration officials on suspended leave.
The First Nations University of Canada is the only Aboriginal-based, focused and staffed university in Canada. Its main campus is in Regina, with satellites in Saskatoon and Prince Albert.