Friday, February 12, 2010

In other news, the sky is blue

Newstalk had a story on their site about the Federal NDP demanding that funding for FNUC be restored. Newstalk paraphrased:

She argues the Tory government is using the problems at the school as an excuse to get out of delivering aboriginal post-secondary education, and to make cuts in the face of a growing budget deficit.
Interestingly enough, both the province and the federal government have said that they will take the funding and reallocate to other aboriginal educational programs. As Mr Wall stated:

“I don’t think anything should be ruled out at this point, except the status quo, because it hasn’t worked. Here’s the bottom line — we want the dollars for education to be maximized for education and not to be diluted by administration and the kinds of unfortunate things that we’ve seen over the years (at First Nations University).”
Now, I have no doubt that the NDP wants funding restored. I question a couple of things in this matter. The first question is why they feel that FNUC should not be accountable to it's students and to its funding partners. The second question is to wonder why this is coming out on the same day that FSIN has stepped back from FNUC, paving the way for a new deal with the U of R to allow it to become an integrated college of the University, much like Campion or Luther colleges.

When I first heard about the story, the general media and First Nations reaction was to be angry that a government would do such a thing. As the facts were being summarized (a very good summary and timeline of prior actions here) it appeared that the funding pulled was long overdue. The timeline since the story broke fell this way:

  • The Province removed funding from FNUC
  • Students met with FSIN to discuss the funding cut
  • FSIN denounced province's funding cut
  • FSIN suspends Board and upper management of FNUC
  • Everybody expects province's funding to be restored.
  • Province stands firm. Federal government cuts funding
  • Email goes out from Charles Pratt (President of FNUC) regarding the Board and Murray Westerlund, CFO.
  • New FNUC Board is appointed (many not even aware that they have become Directors).
  • Old FNUC Board continues to meet.
  • Government expresses non-confidence in new Board.
  • FSIN removes itself from FNUC governance paving the way for the U of R to step in.
Now, for my personal thoughts...

Do I want First Nations to become educated? Yes. Do I want First Nations to take responsibility for their own actions? Absolutely. Do I care if they have their own university to go to? Not particularly, especially given the troubles that FNUC has displayed. Do the First Nations deserve their own University? Not if they act like this.

It's as simple as that. I like the idea of FNUC becoming an integrated college of the U of R - the U of R was issuing their degrees anyways. I like the idea of education being provided without having the funding going towards administration, or trips to Vegas, conferences in Hawaii (need I go on?). Hopefully THAT deal gets done so that the students can complete their education. If it doesn't get done, I'm sure that all of the students will be able to complete their education anyways, it just may not be in a way that provides an Aboriginal focus or jobs for Aboriginal teachers.

No comments:

Post a Comment