Open Letter to Harper Regarding First Nations University

Open Letter to Harper Regarding First Nations University

April 2010

To: The Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada

Dear Prime Minister:

In June 2008 you did what no prime minister before has been
willing to do – offer
an apology to former students of Indian residential schools.
In that apology you
noted that “Two primary objectives of the residential
schools system were to
remove and isolate children from the influence of their
homes, families,
traditions and cultures, and to assimilate them into the
dominant culture.”

Now, less than two years later, your government is forcing
the closure of
Canada’s only First Nations university — the sole
university in Canada based on
First Nations traditions and cultures. By refusing to
restore full funding for
First Nations University, your government will now make it
impossible for First
Nations university students to study in an institution based
on First Nations
traditions and cultures.

There is a bitter irony in your government’s action, coming
as it does after the
Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) has
addressed all of the
concerns that have been expressed about the University’s
governance structure
and after the FSIN, the First Nations University, the
University of Regina and
the Government of Saskatchewan have entered into a
partnership agreement to
ensure proper financial and administrative management of
First Nations

Your government’s refusal to restore full funding, which will
cause the
University to close after August 31, 2010, is an act of
disrespect to First
Nations peoples in Canada and a continuation of the very
practices for which you
apologized in June, 2008.

We urge you to back up your 2008 apology by restoring full
Federal funding to
First Nations University immediately so that it can grow and
expand, not have to
wind down and close.

Yours truly

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