Students at First Nations University of Canada should be able to finish the school year after Chuck Strahl, minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, announced that the federal government will provide $3 million in bridge funding. Both the federal and Saskatchewan governments pulled funding from First Nations University earlier this year, because of ongoing governance problems that have included years of allegations of misused funds, fraud, and political interference from the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations.
The announcement comes not a moment too soon, as the $7.2 million annually that Ottawa gives to the institution was set to end March 31. However, the $3 million in additional funds only lasts until Aug 31 when the school year ends. Strahl has said that any additional funding would be contingent on the university reaching a long-term agreement to alleviate remaining governance concers.
Last week, the university, the Saskatchewan government and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations signed a memorandum of understanding, that would see provincial funding restored. The five-year deal will see $5 million flow to a national accounting firm during the first year of the aggreement. During the remaining four years, the money will go to the University of Regina, who will then distribute it to FNUC.
On Wednesday, FNUC’s Board of Governors was still unsure if it would accept the federal money because it still falls short of what is needed to keep the university running. Board chair Joely BigEagle told the Regina Leader–Post today that they are still in discussions.