AFN Virtual Summit on Indigenous Institutions of Higher Learning

AFN Virtual Summit on Indigenous Institutions of Higher Learning documents the virtual summit that was held March, 2011, to discuss the issues relevant to First Nations Institutions of higher learning. It was hosted by the First Nations University of Canada in Regina. The report includes many statements from students and educators. It is frequently noted that there is often a general disconnect with the mainstream curriculum and methods and location of delivery. There are, in mainstream institutions, historical barriers, social barriers and financial barriers to attendance and success as is outlined in the report that is quoted, prepared by Katenies Research and Management Services: The Business Case for First Nations Post-Secondary Education, prepared for the Assembly of First Nations, May 28, 2007, pp. 10-11.
In the article, Jesse Robson (page 11) reminds us that there is a general misunderstanding that First Nations students are not paying for their education. He points out that most of the students have student loans and that this is “the furthest thing from a free ride.” (page 11) Blair Stonechild on (page 11) points to the importance of having a “healthy identity,” something that can be challenging for many of the students dealing with the legacy of Residential Schools. Attending an IIHL goes a long way to healing that wound. Shauneen Pete (page 13) states, “we are family, literally ….and that we teach in an intergenerational manner,” that is more in line with her values. She appreciates the support of her elders within this educational system.
Many of the students indicated that they need funding and support for computers for transportation. Overall commitment to stable funding to support programmes continues to be an issue as is stated in the section on “What do IIHL’s need to strengthen their role in the Post-Secondary Education system in Canada?” (page 14) Of course, that’s a challenge in the face of general fiscal restraint from all levels of government. However, it is clear that the students benefit from learning in an environment that supports both the their academic needs as well as their cultural needs as First Nations people in Canada.

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