A number of First Nations organizations in Saskatchewan are speaking out after a funding decision by the federal government.

In a joint media release sent out Wednesday morning First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv), Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said despite the federal government turning down a $25 million funding request to help build a new northern campus in Prince Albert for FNUniv they are still optimistic the project will go forward.

The university had applied for federal funding for the project through Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Program.

FNUniv president Jacqueline Ottmann said the university has a long history in Prince Albert and is in need of a new facility to help them accomplish a range of goals.

“The FNUniv has been in Prince Albert for over 20 years and in all this time there has been a need for a facility that would allow us to grow in student enrollment, provide even more innovative programming and enable us to host community gatherings,” she said.

PAGC Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte reiterated the Tribal Council’s support for the construction of a new northern campus. The organizations member chiefs have passed a resolution endorsing the project. The vote was taken at the the FSIN’s winter assembly, which is currently underway in Saskatoon. The PAGC grand chief said he is optimistic a new facility will be built.

“While this most recent funding bid may not have been successful, we are certain that both levels of government will recognize the immense value and importance of a new FNUniv northern campus,” he said.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said a new campus is an investment in First Nations youth, culture and future. He added a new campus is important when it comes to sustaining culture and communities.

“We urge federal decision makers to act swiftly in funding this critical initiative,” he said.

(Top Photo: The current FNUniv campus in downtown Prince Albert. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)