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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


June 28, 2003 - Issue 90


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Canada's First Aboriginal-Run University Opens


by CBC


First Nations University of CanadaREGINA - Hundreds of people gathered on the Prairies Saturday for the opening of a unique campus that native leaders hope will help preserve the past while offering new opportunities for the future.

The First Nations University of Canada is the only aboriginal-run university in North America, according to administrators.

"This is, indeed, a very historic day," said Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, who was among the dignitaries helping unveil a plaque outside the main entrance.

"Education, we say, is our buffalo of the year 2003 and beyond," said Perry Bellegarde, the chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. "That's how we are to survive as indigenous peoples."

"My heart is so full I can feel the tears in my eyes," said the school's president, Eber Hampton. "No one did it for us, but we certainly didn't do it alone."

The university's vice-president, Wes Stevenson, said it's essential that native people have their own campus with their own curriculum.

Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex,  unveils a plaque outside the main entrance. Other schools "teach the old Eurocentric" view of the world, he said.

Aboriginal people need to learn about their own history and culture, as they prepare for life "walking with a moccasin on one foot and a shoe on the other," Stevenson added. "We do work and live in a dual world."

The First Nations University of Canada replaces the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, which had been affiliated with the University of Regina. The college started in 1976 with a few dozen students. It now has about 1,200.

The $30 million building that officially opened Saturday was designed by aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal. It's on the northeast edge of the University of Regina.

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