The University of Saskatchewan officially launched an ambitious campaign with a goal of $500 million to advance Indigenous achievement and university growth by June 2025.
The university claims the campaign, ‘Together, we will be what the world needs,” is the largest in Saskatchewan history.
“We have been contributors, not bystanders, in the greatest cultural opportunity that the country has ever faced,” said USask President Peter Stoicheff at a press conference Tuesday.
Stoicheff said the university is striving to close the education gap at the Saskatoon and Prince Albert campuses with goals of Indigenous achievement in mind.
“What we have done over the last several years is really move the results of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and reconciliation itself over every aspect of the university, so that it is a priority.”
He said the university will focus on scholarships for Indigenous students before and after degrees are earned.
Almost $323 million has already been raised through donations from alumni, community stakeholders, foundations, individuals and families.
“It basically started when I became president, so in the fall of 2015, we started thinking about the fact that we were directing the money that came into the university toward a comprehensive campaign and it took until now to quietly reach the 65 per cent of the wage of the goal,” Stoicheff said.
The university has over 170,000 alumni around the world who the university president thinks will play a role in helping reach the goal.
A $12.5-million donation was recently made by Merlis Belsher Place, the location of a community celebration on Tuesday.
The funds are intended to support four ‘pillars’ of the university explained Cheryl Hamelin, vice-president of university relations.
“(Donations) have all been given in support of the four pillars of the comprehensive campaign… the critical research, student support which is both scholarships and bursaries and support for physical and mental health, for Indigenous achievement, and funding for building and maintaining critical places and spaces on campus,” Hamelin said.
Graduate student and co-founder of the Indigenous Business Students’ Society Laliberte-Pewapisconias, helped launch the campaign.
“It is so important that students see their culture reflected in what they study and in the places they study, and USask is the place where this can happen,” said Pewapisconias.
“My dream is that all Indigenous students feel empowered, heard, and a part of their campus community.”
A portion of the $322 million has been used to fund mentorship opportunities for more than 185 Indigenous high school students.