We have had a whirlwind series of meetings yesterday and today with Gilles Duceppe, Michael Ignatieff, Jack Layton and Chuck Strahl to get funding restored for the First Nations University. Joining me in these meetings were Guy Lonechild, Grand Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations; Diane Admas, President of the FNUC Student Association; Randy Lundy, Chair of the FNUC Academic Council; Brenda Merasty, from the AFssembly of First Nations, and for today’s meetings with Layton adn Strahl, Joely BigEagle, Chair of the Interim Board of FNUC.
The opposition leaders pledged the support of their parties to the restoration of the $7.2-million the Feds announced were being cut off on March 31, 2010. Each of the parties has subsequently taken a number of actions to express their support. Our Communications Officer, Kerry Pither, arranged for Randy and Diane to be on Canada AM this morning. She arranged for Chief Lonechild to be on two CBC TV programs. Diane was also interviewed on the Parliamentary Channel. Questions have been asked in the House of Commons. The matter will be brought up in Parliamentary Committees next 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 today’s 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. As part of local pressure, it would be helpful for individuals to write to or email Minister Strahl and the Prime Minister calling for the restoration of funding. Letters to MPs will also help. Here is a link to the email and mail addresses for all members of Parliament:
I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, please share this and encourage everyone to write or email MPs, and Minister Strahl and the PM.
James L. Turk // Executive Director / Directeur général // Canadian Association of University Teachers / Association canadienne des professeures et professeurs d’université // 2705 promenade Queensview Drive / Ottawa, (Ontario) / K2B 8K2 // tél 613.726-5176 / téléc 613.820-7244 / mobile 613.277-0488 / firstname.lastname@example.org