Saturday, April 3, 2010

FNUniv supporters still seek $7M in federal funding following $3M investment announcement

FNUniv supporters still seek $7M in federal funding following $3M investment announcement

A $3M Slap in the Face

So there was a mixed reaction to the announcement from the federal government this week that will see FNUC receive $3,000,000 from the federal government to allow the university to finish out its academic year.

What bothers me is a couple of pieces of the article:

BigEagle said the federal government and the university are "kind of" on the same page when it comes to the students. She said her job has been to ensure the students could complete their winter semester, but she said the one-time funding does not allow a future plan for the students.
The point I'm going to make here is a point that someone should say in this whole debate. The federal government is committed to providing education to First Nations students. Period. To be quite frank, the government doesn't (and really shouldn't) care how that education is delivered, as long as it is completed. To say that you are "kind of" on the same page with that means that you're really not on the same page with that vision. I have no doubt that she wants education provided, however I think that they are miles apart on how that education is done, especially when you read this comment:

She said the worst-case scenario would mean lay-offs would have to take place.

"We need assurances past August so that our liability issues are addressed," said BigEagle.

All of a sudden, we're not talking about making sure her people are educated, she's talking about making sure that her people are EMPLOYED. To be quite frank, that isn't a direct concern of the federal government either. The idea behind governmental funding of education is to ensure that training is done properly so that a highly trained workforce can use that training to create efficiencies.

When I read from students and Board members that they may turn the money down, especially when that money was specifically earmarked for programs and provision of education, my first thought was "great, apparently they didn't need the money anyways". The more I hear this outcry, the more I am happily confident that the federal government is doing the right thing.

The treaties provided for education to the poor natives who had to make a transition into the white man's way of life back in the 18th and 19th century. I have no doubt that many people want them to continue that transition even now. But I'm going to dispel one myth that obviously Ms. Bigeagle holds dear:

"The federal government has an obligation based on the treaty to provide funding," she said. "They have a fiduciary responsibility, so the fight will never be over."
There is no mention in the Treaties of a segregated First Nations university. There is nothing in the Treaties that says the government has to give money to such an institution. The Crown DOES have a contractual obligation to provide education, but that hardly extends to a fiduciary duty. To be quite frank, it is Ms. BigEagle`s fiduciary duty to encourage that education in her people, regardless of how it is delivered. Hopefully she learns this soon.

And to the rest that want to refuse the funding? G'ahead. You're only hurting yourself.

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