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Indigenous universities and colleges to receive $6M in annual government funding

New legislation from the B.C. government will bring funding to First Nations educational institutions
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Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, said the legislation will help First Nations-mandated institutes better prepare First Nations learners for a bright future. (file photo) | ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST

First Nations post-secondary education institutions are set to receive $6.45 million in collective funding this year and every year going forward, following new legislation from the B.C. government.

The funds, allocated through the StrongerBC: Future Ready Action Plan, will aid universities and colleges in revitalizing First Nations languages and cultures, alongside addressing the continuing impacts of colonialism and racism.

Tyrone McNeil, president of the First Nations Education Steering Committee, said the new legislation recognizes First Nations-mandated institutions as integral to B.C.’s post-secondary system.

“We appreciate the stability this legislation will offer to our institutes as they grow to meet the needs of their communities,” he said. “We look forward to the work ahead to implement the B.C. First Nations tripartite post-secondary education model in the spirit and intent of Article 14 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

The declaration comprises 46 articles ratified by the United Nations that recognize the basic human rights of Indigenous people, along with their rights to self-determination. Article 14 states effective measures should be taken to provide First Nations with access, when possible, to education in their own culture and own language.

“This legislation and the funding it commits will support the critical work underway at First Nations-mandated institutes,” said sumaxatk ∑ Tracey Kim Bonneau, chair of the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association. “Our institutes provide culturally safe and supportive post-secondary and adult education to their communities, including addressing the urgent need for language learning and revitalization.”

The legislation has been developed in collaboration between IAHLA and the Ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills and the First Nations Education Steering Committee. IAHLA has more than 40 Indigenous adult and post-secondary educational institutes throughout the province, all offering a wide range of courses and programs.

“For years, the right to a post-secondary education was denied to First Nations learners,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “Culturally appropriate opportunities did not exist. Through this new legislation, which addresses a key commitment in the Declaration Act Action Plan, the province is helping First Nations-mandated institutes better prepare First Nations learners for a bright future in whatever field they choose.”

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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