First Nations University of Canada receives more than $2-million for land-based learning centre
The First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) is receiving more than $2 million for new outdoor education centre that it is calling its fourth campus.
The funding is being provided by both the provincial and federal governments. It is part of more than $19.7 million in joint funding for 25 infrastructure projects across the province.
FNUniv's outdoor education location, which is already in use for students, is 22 acres. It's located along the South Saskatchewan River near the town of St. Louis, just 30 kilometres south of Prince Albert.
The outdoor centre will serve as a place for Indigenous teaching and learning on the land. It will include overnight facilities such as cabins, shower and washroom facilities, an upgraded mess hall with a kitchen, water and wastewater infrastructure.
"There's really not a whole lot there, and our students and elders and faculty members have been engaging in land-based and cultural teaching and learning on the property for the last few years. And so we just need the basic essentials," said Jacqueline Ottmann, president of FNUniv.
"[We need] small accommodations for our elders just to ensure that they are healthy and safe, and that we're adding to their comfort."
The campus will also eventually include a permanent sweat lodge, but Ottmann said that could take some time.
Demonstrations of reconciliation
FNUniv has been on the land near St. Louis for about three years, according to Ottmann.
FNUniv's education and social work programs offer land and place-based learning and cultural teachings at the campus. Students often spend two weeks on-location.
"Before that the university didn't own property for land and place-based learning. So now we have this property and it's beautiful."
Ottmann said a student that attended the cultural camp last summer told her he hoped that all FNUniv students would get that experience.
"Essentially he said that he walked away from from the cultural camp in very good spirits. He just felt holistically well."
Ottmann hopes many students share the same feelings in the future.
The new funding announcement comes on the heels of the FNUniv securing a land transfer from the city of Prince Albert for a new northern campus build.
"These are demonstrations of reconciliation and, even more specifically, economic reconciliation and education sovereignty," said Ottmann.
"These are all important to Indigenous peoples and actually beneficial to society as a whole."
Other projects that have received infrastructure funding from the Government of Saskatchewan and the federal government include Estevan's leisure centre, the West Central Event Centre in Kindersley and several rural municipalities across the province.
"The investments announced today will create opportunities for Saskatchewanians to build a better future for themselves, their families and their communities," said Dominic LeBlanc, minister of intergovernmental affairs, infrastructure and communities, in a news release on Wednesday.
"We will continue working with our partners to support rural and Indigenous communities across Saskatchewan."