The First Nations University of Canada , formerly the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, is a Canadian university in Saskatchewan with campuses in Regina, Saskatoon, and Prince Albert. The Regina campus building was designed by the architect Douglas Cardinal.
Although it is called the First Nations University of Canada and is recognized as a university by the Saskatchewan Government, the institution is actually a federated college of the University of Regina (U. of R.), and degrees earned at the institution are conferred by the U. of R. The enabling legislation is An Act Respecting the University of Regina, Chapter U-5.
There are three campuses,
- Regina Campus: 1 First Nations Way, Regina (on the campus of the University of Regina)
- Saskatoon Campus: 226–230 20th Street East, Saskatoon (on the campus of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies)
- Northern Campus: 1301 Central Ave, Prince Albert
The top two and a half floors of its Regina campus building were formerly leased as office space to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) until 2014.
FNUniv students at the Regina campus pay regular U. of R. related and University of Regina
Student Union fees. Like the other federated colleges of Luther and Campion, FNUniv students may utilize all of the U. of R. facilities (libraries, book stores, clubs, parking, labs, etc.) and services (meal plans, residences, online services, career counselling, etc.). The FNUniv degree programs are correlated with the rest of the U. of R. curriculum.
Each FNUniv campus features a library, with strengths relating to the subjects and disciplines taught at each campus (Indigenous Studies, Indian Fine Arts, Education, and Business at Regina campus; Indigenous Social Work at Saskatoon campus; and Indigenous Health Studies and Education at Prince Albert
campus). The FNUniv libraries have, since 1976, been affiliated with the University of Regina
library. FNUniv students and faculty may utilize the FNUniv libraries, as well as the University of Regina
library and its other affiliated college libraries (Campion and Luther).
FNUniv is open to students of all cultures and nationalities and is not restricted to those of First Nations descent.
HRH The Earl of Wessex opened the university in 2003. HM Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, made it her first engagement during the centennial celebrations of Saskatchewan and Alberta in 2005.
Star Blanket Cree Nation has proposed a plan to declare the institution's property an Urban Indian reserve under a Saskatchewan Treaty Land Entitlement Agreement involving Star Blanket, the provincial and federal governments. Band members of the Star Blanket Nation unanimously voted in favour of this plan during a 2008 referendum.
The Saskatchewan Indian Federated College was affiliated from the first with the University of Regina. It was founded in 1976 by an agreement between the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations and the University of Regina, with the stated intent of serving "the academic, cultural and spiritual needs of First Nations' students".
The university designed special programs in partnership with Aboriginal communities to meet the human resource needs of Aboriginal communities in areas such as health, education and the environment – examples include its National School of Dental Therapy, Nursing and Health Studies programs. A special first-year bridging programs for Aboriginal students is provided, with Aboriginal Elders present on campus to provide social supports. FNUniv offers a comprehensive career services program to meet the vocational problems of Aboriginal students.
Scholarships and bursaries
The Government of Canada sponsors an Aboriginal Bursaries Search Tool that lists over 680 scholarships, bursaries, and other incentives offered by governments, universities, and industry to support Aboriginal post-secondary participation. First Nations University of Canada scholarships for Aboriginal, First Nations and Métis students include: Adam Dreamhealer Prize; Ayahkamimakan Pimatisiwin Bursary; Albert Bellegarde Memorial Scholarship; Grain Services Union Bursary; Molson Entrance Scholarship; Hudson's Bay Company Student Achievement Award for Excellence; Information Systems Management (ISM) Scholarship; Many Nations/Maritime Life Assurance Award; Jean Shoebridge Memorial Book Prize; Mary Ahenakew Memorial Scholarship Award; Margaret and Clare Sherrard Friendship Scholarship; Paul J. Dudgeon Memorial Scholarship; SGI Stan Hamilton Scholarship; Solomon Mosquito Scholarship in English; Wendy Swenson Memorial Scholarship; Meyers Norris Penny LLP Scholarship; Bobby Bird Memorial Scholarship; Dr. Oliver Brass Graduate Studies Award; Dr. Suzanne Marcia Nilson Scholarship in Biology.
In May 2007, the university was put on probation by the AUCC, following a controversy in February 2005 in which the university fired a number of staff members. The association demanded the university establish full independence from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations within a year.
The university complied with the AUCC directives, and was reinstated in April 2008.
In November 2008, the Canadian Association of University Teachers voted unanimously to censure FNUniv and asked its members not accept jobs, honours or awards at the university. Changes made relating to academic freedom, governance and political autonomy were reported to be reason for the censure vote. The censure was lifted in April 2010 after the university made very significant governance changes.
In October 2008, the government of Saskatchewan gave the university $1.6 million to relieve a chronic budget deficit. The money was given to cover salaries of faculty and operating expenses. Another $400,000 was to be spent on a review of the university's long-term operations.
In February 2009, the provincial government withheld $200,000 of funding. Lack of progress in solving the institution's problems was cited as the reason. By March 18, enough progress had been made for the government to release half the frozen funds.
In June 2009, the federal government withheld $2.4 million in funding, saying it wanted to see changes at the institution before the money would be handed over. University officials responded by accusing the federal and provincial governments of being uncooperative and unnecessarily negative in their attempts to address alleged governance problems.
On February 3, 2010, the provincial government of Saskatchewan officially suspended funding the FNUniv effective April 1, 2010.
The next day, the FNUniv's board of governors was dissolved.
On February 8, 2010, the Canadian federal government announced it will cease funding the University, effective March 31, 2010.
However, on March 23, 2010, the province of Saskatchewan restored funding. In June 2010, the federal government announced the provision of $4 million of support in response to the changes in governance that were underway; however, these funds would be administered on behalf of FNUniv by the University of Regina.
In January 2009, Shauneen Pete was dismissed from her position as Vice-President of Academics for what the university administration said was an internal personnel matter. On January 13, the FNUC Students' Association organized a rally in protest.
Two former employees of the institution, Janet Lee Kurtz and Wesley Robert Stevenson, were charged with defrauding the university of the amounts of $21,000 and $15,000 respectively. Both pleaded guilty, were ordered to make full restitution, and agreed to perform community service.
In December 2009 the university's chief financial officer, Murray Westerlund, left his position. Westerlund said he was fired, but FNUniv's then-president, Charles Pratt, said that the departure was mutually agreed upon. FNUniv officials also missed another series of deadlines to file various reports, which led the federal government to withhold $1.8 million in funding.
In January 2010, documents from November 2009 surfaced which showed that Westerlund had raised concerns about inappropriate spending. Westerlund filed a wrongful dismissal lawsuit against the university on December 17, 2009. The suit claims he was marginalized and then fired for writing the documents which criticized the spending practices of university officials. The provincial Minister of Advanced Education, Rob Norris, called for an emergency meeting with the University of Regina's board of governors to discuss the financial situation at the FNUniv.
After the meeting on January 27, Norris hinted that the provincial government may cut off funding to the institution.
In March 2010, it was discovered that nearly $400,000 of the FNUniv's scholarship fund had been spent on general operations. The fund had dwindled from $390,000 in spring 2009 to $15,000 in February 2010.
On March 19, 2010, Charles Pratt was terminated by the Interim Board of Governors, with cause, as President of FNUniv; he had previously been suspended with pay. Allan Ducharme, the former Vice-president of Administration, was fired on the same day. Dr. Shauneen Pete, who had formerly been dismissed from a leadership post at FNUniv, was appointed as President in April 2010 for a six-month term.
In August 2012, Charles Pratt and Allan Ducharme reached an out-of-court settlement and First Nations University issued a statement as a part of that settlement, which stated in part "that neither Mr. Pratt nor Mr. Ducharme were found to be in dereliction of their respective duties nor guilty of any financial impropriety".