First Nations University of Canada becomes first urban reserve for educational purposes
History was made at the First Nations University of Canada in Regina on Wednesday, as a ceremonial signing marked the first urban reserve in the country negotiated for educational purposes.
“This day is so historical for all our community,” said Star Blanket Cree Nation Chief Michael Starr. “The joy of our people, seeing them be here, and the joy of them being here felt like a sense of accomplishment.”
The process started in 2002 when Star Blanket became the First Nation selected in the Urban Reserve creation project. The agreement was negotiated between several parties included the City of Regina, provincial and federal government.
“In order for [Indigenous peoples] to prosper and for there to be a sense of control, economic development has to come into play,” said Minister of Indigenous Affairs Seamus O’Regan. “That’s why we are working with Inuit, Metis and First Nations across the country to allow them those opportunities and for them to be in the driver’s seat.”
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The urban reserve totals just over 32 acres and encompasses the university. It’s name is atim kâ-mihkosit, or “Red Dog” in English.
“Treaty Land Entitlement is a debt owed. It’s a Crown obligation, it’s owed to First Nations people,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “Getting all this land back is just part of that original treaty.”
With the new status comes plans for further development — a hope that began years ago, well before the institution moved to its current location in 2003.
“The original vision was to continue building on, so we would have residences, we would have daycare facilities, we would have all other kinds of support facilities around this one building,” said First Nations University of Canada President Mark Dockstator.
“[It achieves] that original vision that the leaders had for this from the signing of treaty.”
For many, it’s a symbol of progress and achievement — a continued investment into future generations.
“It’s a day to celebrate,” said Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale. “It’s also a day to remind ourselves there’s a lot more left to be done.
“The partnership, the building, the work, the reconciliation — this place and this achievement today is a major step on the road of reconciliation.”