Autonomy on the horizon for First Nations University of Canada with new partnership

A new partnership sets the First Nations University of Canada on the path to becoming fully autonomous. Andrew Benson / Global News

Independence and expanded community-led programming is on the horizon for the First Nations University of Canada.

A new partnership with the Mastercard foundation — with a $22.3-million funding boost — sets the university on the path to becoming fully autonomous, which has been its vision since it was established in 1976.

“This historic agreement is an example of educational and economic reconciliation and responsibility in action,” First Nations University of Canada President Jacqueline Ottman said.

“It is reflective of the strong and respectful relationship that First Nations University of Canada and the Mastercard Foundation have developed while building this partnership, which is focused on systemic, deep-seated change that supports Indigenous students and communities.”

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A release from the university said the partnership will focus on four key areas: transforming post-secondary education across Canada, achieving full autonomy for the university, leading economic reconciliation efforts, and developing new Indigenous programs in priority fields.

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These programs include Indigenous journalism and communication arts, mental health and wellness, paralegal studies, and Indigenous languages revitalization.

“First Nations University of Canada is deeply committed to the transformative and healing impact of Indigenous ways of being, knowing, and doing, accomplished through post-secondary education,” Ottman said.

“I truly appreciate and value the relationship with the Mastercard Foundation and look forward to the contributions we will make together.”

According to the university, more than 1,000 students will complete new programs and 6,000 will benefit from access to internships, mentorships and career opportunities over the next five years.

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