Teachers’ Group Censures First Nations University

Monday, December 01, 2008 at 13:32



The Canadian Association of University Teachers’ governing council has voted unanimously to censure the First Nations University of Canada.


Censure means CAUT members will be called on to refuse appointments at the institution, to decline invitations to speak or participate in academic conferences hosted by the university, and to turn down any distinctions it offers.


The organization says FNUC will have serious difficulties attracting and retaining staff and hosting academic conferences.


CAUT spokesman James Turk says his group simply hasn’t seen enough progress on issues of governance and academic freedom.


Turk says CAUT had hoped to meet with the university’s board, but the invitation never came.


Turk says it’s up to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations to turn the situation around.


Turk also says the censure will be lifted as soon as the FSIN adopts all of the recommendations in a report from its All-Chiefs Task Force.


This is the first time a university has been censured since 1979.


An FSIN official says he is most concerned with how the censure will affect students at the FNUC.


Vice-Chief Lyle Whitefish calls it “very unfortunate” — and says he was only made aware recently there was no communication taking place between CAUT and the FNUC.


Whitefish also says he doesn’t know why the association would take this position, when another group — the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada — no longer has the university on probation.


He notes he resigned his post as FNUC board chair, and doesn’t know what more can be done to satisfy CAUT.


Whitefish says he also doesn’t like to see other groups try to tear down what First Nations have built over several decades in the area of Indian control over Indian education.


While Whitefish admits the censure is a setback, he notes there are professors out there that are not affiliated with the association.