Brandon University welcomes Indigenous Education funding

January 7, 2016

Brandon University (BU) is pleased by a provincial pledge to support Indigenous Education with additional funding earmarked for that purpose.

The province announced today that Indigenous Education in Manitoba would be supported by specific new money, on top of a 2.5 per cent increase in general operating grants.

Brandon University President Gervan Fearon was in Winnipeg for the announcement.

“The government’s funding for Indigenous Education indicates they support the work that post-secondary presidents have done on the Manitoba Indigenous Education Blueprint,” Fearon said. “It also supports Brandon University in our efforts to foster the success of Indigenous students and of our academic programs for all students.”

The province also specifically announced $50,000 to support Indigenous culture on campus and $150,000 to support a Métis studies program at BU.

“This funding recognizes the important work and collaboration of faculty and staff who have developed the Métis studies program proposal in support of educational programs for our students and communities we serve,” Fearon said.

The Métis studies program builds on BU’s reputation for decades of leadership in Indigenous Education. In 1975, BU was the first university in Western Canada (and only the second in Canada) to establish a Native Studies Department. The University’s engagement with Aboriginal, First Nations and Indigenous programming continues today, including through an Indigenous Peoples’ Centre, research by Dr. Yvonne Boyer, the Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Health and Wellness, and PENT, the Program for the Education of Native Teachers.

“I’m just thrilled with the amount of money they’re putting in to so many different areas of education. It is time to start  focusing more on Indigenous students and their cultural contributions to Canada,” said Leah LaPlante, Vice-President of Manitoba Métis Federation and Chair of the Brandon Urban Aboriginal Peoples’ Council (BUAPC). “I’ve heard from students that the cultural component is very important, in particular to see their culture and history reflected in the educational institutions. I have been involved with developing the Métis studies program at BU for almost five years and so the news that they were contributing $150,000  to that project was wonderful news.”

“This is a tremendous step forward, not only for our community but for everyone involved in Indigenous Education and in education for all,” said Jason Gobeil, Aboriginal Community Coordinator for BUAPC. “It’s really fantastic; there’s so much going on with actions being taken to improve the curriculum and to improve Indigenous Education.”

On Dec. 18, 2015, BU reaffirmed a commitment to Indigenous Education by signing the Manitoba Indigenous Education Blueprint, building on recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The blueprint commits BU and fellow signatories to 10 objectives that will enhance Indigenous Education. These new commitments will inform future efforts, and join the initiatives that have already begun. For more information, see brandonu.ca/indigenous

The funding announcement comes earlier in the year than it has in the past, which will help BU better plan for its annual budget.

“This extra time really facilitates planning across the entire system. It’s very welcome and will allow us to make budget planning decisions based on actual funding instead of an estimate,” said Scott Lamont, BU’s Vice-President (Administration & Finance). “Brandon University is very pleased with the funding announcement and the overall support that Manitoba has provided to its post-secondary institutions.”