Students hoping to hear mention of First Nation’s University funding in today’s budget were disappointed. The budget was presented at 2:30 p.m. today but surprisingly contained no mention of the FNUniv and a proposed partnership with the U of R.
“It’s not official in my mind yet, so to not have it said at the legislature makes me think it’s still a little shaky. If they know what’s right for their own economy and if they want to cut costs for the future, then they will invest money into FNUniv today,” said Cadmus Delorme, vice-president of communications for the FNUniv Student Association.
Photo by: Sean Dunham
In advance of the budget, the provincial government announced that they will reinstate about $5 million of funds that were pulled earlier this year. Funds will be transferred to the First Nation’s University through the University of Regina.
“They are not reinstated, they’re going to flow. But it’s a good start,” said Delorme.
“There are no more funds flowing through FNUniv but those funds would be accessible through a partnership. What has changed, of course, is that partnership is in hand, (with the U of R)” said Rob Norris, the minister of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour.
Norris said the memorandum of understanding will see funds flow to a national accounting firm in year one and in the following years to the University of Regina.
It is not clear if this new development will cause the federal government to rethink their position. Earlier this year, they pulled approximately $7 million from the FNUniv. Even though the federal government announced their budget about three weeks earlier, Norris as well as students are hoping for them to reverse their decision.
“We want those federal dollars to stay in Saskatchewan. We think the best way for that to happen is for the federal government to invest in this partnership too,” said Norris.
“If they know what’s right, it would be tomorrow,” said Delorme. “I don’t think they have the best interests of First Nations people in mind. If that $7.2 million leaves the province, it’s a good chance that it will never come back. We will not survive on just provincial funds.”
Delorme believes that the federal government is being un-Canadian by withholding the funds. “The Canadian way of doing things is you don’t kill something when it’s sick, you give it medicine. I believe if they don’t reinstate that money, they’re going to go down as a government that committed cultural genocide on First Nations people.”
Students from FNUniv have been sleeping in tents and teepees for the last couple nights. They said they will continue to sleep outside their institution until the federal funding is restored, no matter how long it takes.
“We’re not leaving until both the monies flow back here,” said Delorme. “We tell everybody this is like our home and just to prove a point we are making it our home.”
He said the sleep in is open to anybody who wishes to support them and encourages everyone to join them.