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Historic announcement regarding Indigenous education

February 7, 2014 — 

On February 7, the federal government made an announcement together with AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo, on the commitment of additional federal government resources toward First Nations’ education, including over $1.9 billion to support the First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.

The announcement was made at Kainai High School on Kainai First Nation, near Lethbridge, Alberta. Dr. David Barnard, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba, was invited to attend the announcement by the federal government.

This significant commitment in improving K-12 education for First Nations students will help prepare the next generation of Indigenous students for university life. By enhancing the quality of education in early, middle and high school years, university and college preparedness, enrolment rates and ultimately graduation rates will be improved.

Barnard’s invitation was in the context of the many strides the University of Manitoba has made during the past several years in creating programming geared toward First Nations, Metis and Inuit students, and in making the university a more welcoming and affirming place for Indigenous students, faculty and staff.

Over 2,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit students currently attend the University of Manitoba, one of the largest Indigenous student populations in the country. Indigenous Achievement is one of the four pillars of the University of Manitoba’s Strategic Planning Framework, with a commitment to work with a variety of partners to make Manitoba the national centre for Indigenous education and research and in particular to allow First Nations, Metis and Inuit students to be prepared for and achieve education success in the full range of academic programs offered.

Aligned with this commitment, the University of Manitoba was selected to host the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, joining hands with communities across Canada. This week, Mr. Ry Moran has been announced as the director of the Centre, which will be located on the U of M campus when completed in 2015. It will house thousands of video- and audio-recorded statements from Survivors and others impacted by Residential Schools and their legacy. Working in partnership with First Nations communities, today’s announcement from the government furthers a path toward reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in Canada.

Barnard notes: “Presidents of universities and colleges can play an important role in building bridges and creating conditions that allow for a new and better relationship with Canada’s Indigenous peoples. The University of Manitoba is committed to Indigenous education and research and to creating a better future for all Canadians.”

Dr. Barnard was also invited to participate in a roundtable discussion on First Nations education and skills development following the announcement.

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