In an effort to ease access to education for First Nations people in Saskatchewan, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) and Saskatchewan Polytechnic have signed a memorandum of understanding.
The five-year partnership represents shared interests and goals between the FSIN and Sask Polytechnic.
“We have the First Nations University of Canada, we have the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology; those are FSIN created institutions and we fully support those,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said.
“However, some First Nations students decide to go to U of S (University of Saskatchewan), some decide to go to Sask Polytechnic; we still have to be there as elected leaders to support them.”
The formalized deal will see the school and FSIN collaborate to highlight strategies and programs to support First Nations students.
“It’s an agreement that we have to make sure that we continue with our dialogue and to keep talking about this and to make it high on both organizations priorities.” Dr Larry Rosia, president and CEO of Sask Polytechnic, said.
According to Cameron, nearly 20 per cent of the student body at Sask Polytechnic is First Nations.
“That’s a big number so we want to represent them and ensure that they succeed,” Cameron said.
“These students are exercising their treaty right to an education.”
One of the goals of the MOU is to increase First Nations enrollment.
Rosia admits there is a gap among First Nations students between enrollment and graduation numbers.
“We monitor that and we’re measuring that every semester,” Rosia said.
“A lot of the strategies we’re putting in place is to close that gap; the overall goal is to make sure we reduce the gap to zero.”
The deal will see the FSIN and Sask Polytechnic have regular meetings, sharing information and continued dialogue on a framework for First Nations student success.