Officials with the University of Saskatchewan announced their plans today to establish a campus in Prince Albert, a campus that the school’s president will help to serve northern and Indigenous communities.

“We want to participate in the reconciliation process in the country, and education is the key to reconciliation,” said U of S President, Peter Stoicheff. “We know that a lot of the population in northern Saskatchewan is Indigenous, and we feel that we can serve that population well.”

On March 15, the university plans to purchase the Saskatchewan Forest Centre building in downtown Prince Albert, which will be converted into a campus.

Over 300 U of S students from the colleges of Arts and Science, Nursing and Medicine took classes in Prince Albert during the 2017-18 academic year. Indigenous students made up 47 per cent of the Prince Albert student body.

The president noted that the school is committed to reconciliation, and the programs offered by the school will be influenced by feedback from northern communities.

“We’re looking at consulting with as many communities as we possibly can, and stakeholders as we possibly can to be advised on what sorts of programming we should be offering up there — that would be of the most benefit to the most people,” said Stoicheff. “Together, we will collaborate on developing needed programs and areas of research that are of interest to Indigenous and northern peoples.”

Local politicians shared positive remarks in response to the announcement, claiming it will benefit not only the city but all of northern Saskatchewan.

“I look forward to seeing the opening of this revamped facility and the opportunities it will provide to future students, not only in Prince Albert, but for all students in the north,” said Prince Albert Carlton MLA, Joe Hargrave.

“For many years, we have considered Prince Albert the medical, educational and service centre for northern Saskatchewan, and a University of Saskatchewan campus in Prince Albert fits our vision and how we serve the north,” said Prince Albert Mayor, Greg Dionne.

Over the next year, the U of S plans to develop and execute a plan to renovate the space to include classrooms, offices, lab facilities and common gathering areas. The campus is expected to begin operation by the fall of 2020.

(PHOTO: Interior of the Forest Centre that will be house the U of S campus. Photo by Travis Radke.)