REGINA – Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris Monday morning boasted of the $50 million the government has set aside in this year’s budget for First Nations and Metis education, citing a 20 percent increase in enrollment in post-secondary and skills training.
There’s also been an increase in applicants to graduate programs. He was speaking at the opening of a special showcase inviting the public to learn more about the research being conducted by indigenous scholars.
“The First Nations, Inuit and Metis showcase is actually a Canadian initiative and it’s being hosted right here at the First Nations University,” said Norris.
In a showcase called “Imagining Canada’s Future,” Regina researchers will give more than 20 free presentations throughout the week the minister says are of national significance.
“It’s also important for the subject matter being discussed, as diverse as First Nations and Metis communities, so it helps reflect contemporary Canada and in this case, contemporary Saskatchewan.”
“One of the themes in my work that seems to be coming out stronger and stronger is honouring people,” explained Judy Anderson, Indian Fine Arts associate professor.
Anderson and three of her fellow colleagues in the Indian Fine Arts department kicked off the showcase with a sometimes personal discussion about their art on display.
“So basically my work revolves all around the passing away of my mother and I work through the themes and concepts of grieving and the process of mourning,” added Katherine Boyer, gallery and collections coordinator at the First Nations University.
Many more research topics are up for discussion this week: “Things like suicide prevention, how to decrease gang affiliation. There’s fine arts. There’s literature,” said Dr. Shauneen Pete, who helped to organize the showcase.
Researchers hope the showcase will inform the public, but also create opportunities for more collaboration.
“I’m hoping more partnerships will come out of it, more support, more funding more volunteers, more excitement,” said Dr. Dawn Marsden,an indigenous health assistant professor, who gave a presentation on indigenous food and medicine systems.
Dr. Pete said the idea of the showcase is to “inspire creativity, so that we can transform society. It seems like a big, lofty goal, right? But we need a variety of viewpoints and perspectives to actually impact the type of profound change we’re looking for.”
The showcase is taking place all week at the University of Regina, College Avenue Campus and the First Nations University.