A handful of student activists were on hand at Halifax MP Megan Leslie’s NDP constituency office yesterday, urging the federal government to provide permanent funding to the First Nations University in Saskatchewan.
Seven members of the Canadian Federation of Students presented a letter, addressed to Indian and Northern Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl, to Leslie’s constituency assistant.
“First Nations University plays an important role in encouraging aboriginal students to pursue post-secondary studies,” said Elise Graham, CFS Nova Scotia chairwoman.
First Nations University, located in Regina, had its funding cut by the provincial and federal government in February, amid allegations of financial irregularities.
Saskatchewan has since restored its share of funding to the university, as has the federal government. The CFS is concerned, however, the feds have yet to commit to funding beyond March 2011.
Leslie, who was in Ottawa yesterday, said while First Nations University has had governance problems in the past, she believes the issues have been addressed.
“Since (February), a lot has happened,” said Leslie. “(First Nations University) responded to the concerns to the point that Saskatchewan actually said ... ‘we will reinstitute your funding.’”
Leslie praised the federal government for funding the university to 2011, but said a more permanent funding arrangement should be made.
“(First Nations University) is so important to First Nations, but it’s also important to Canada,” she added.