Joint funding for land-based learning centre for 4th First Nations University of Canada campus

A fourth campus for the First Nations University of Canada will receive funding from the federal and provincial governments for a land-based learning centre. Photo courtesy: First Nations University of Canada

Both the federal and Saskatchewan governments announced they will fund the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) for its fourth campus, which will be used for land-based learning.

The campus space is 22 acres and is located near the town of St. Louis along the South Saskatchewan River. FNUniv registered students will soon have a place for Indigenous teaching and learning on the land that will feature overnight facilities such as cabins, shower and washroom facilities, a mess hall with a kitchen, water and wastewater infrastructure, a permanent sweat lodge structure and an outdoor learning centre.

FNUniv president Jackie Ottman said the institution had been using this outdoor space for a couple of years prior to the pandemic for cultural camps for the education and social work programs.

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“We are a university that is foundational to Indigenous knowledge systems,” said Ottman. “It is important that we incorporate those knowledge systems and transfer those teachings to our students.”

Ottman said the FNUniv will receive over $2 million to build this infrastructure. The funding was announced on Wednesday by Dominic LeBlanc, minister of intergovernmental affairs, infrastructure and communities, and Saskatchewan’s Government Relations Minister Don McMorris.

“The investments announced today will create opportunities for Saskatchewanians to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities,” stated LeBlanc in a press release. “We will continue working with our partners to support rural and Indigenous communities across Saskatchewan.”

Ottman said she is “extremely excited” to hear about this opportunity for the FNUniv to grow with this infrastructure funding. Construction will begin this spring with hopes of completion sometime this year.

“For this land-based learning centre, we hope to expand the opportunities from our students to the community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” she said. “I think it will be a source of healing, a source of reconciliation. I’m really excited that we can engage and (begin) construction fairly quickly.”

The federal and provincial governments announced more than $19.7 million in joint funding for 25 infrastructure projects across the province.

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Other places that will receive funding for infrastructure projects are Estevan and the Town of Kindersley, with infrastructure improvements including bridge replacements for the rural municipalities of Big Stick, Biggar, and Laurier. In addition, five landfills for the villages of Climax, Ceylon and Harris and the towns of Lumsden and Milestone will also benefit from this funding.

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