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Percy Downe

The Hon. Percy E. Downe, B.A. Senator Percy E. Downe was appointed to the Senate of Canada by the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien. He has served in the Senate representing Charlottetown in the province of Prince Edward Island since June 26, 2003.

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First Nations University of Canada—Aboriginal Education

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Statement made on 31 March 2010 by Senator Robert Peterson (retired)

Hon. Robert W. Peterson:

Honourable senators, my question is to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I will begin by saying how much I appreciated her uplifting speech during Senators' Statements regarding the fiftieth anniversary of the First Nations receiving the vote. Unfortunately, there is another anniversary today which is not nearly as uplifting or pleasant.

Today is the end of the fiscal year and the day that the long-term core federal funding to First Nations University in Regina runs out.

We acknowledge there were serious problems with the governance and management of First Nations University, but both of these issues have been addressed. A new depoliticized board of directors has been put in place and the senior administrators have been dismissed. The University of Regina has stepped up to the plate and will assume oversight of financial matters.

While the provincial government has shown tremendous leadership in this matter and has concluded a funding deal with the university, the leader's Conservative government is still missing from the table and refuses to show leadership.

Honourable senators, education is the key to the future for Aboriginal people. In the next 10 to 15 years, they will make up 50 per cent of the workforce. Why is the Conservative government making students pay today for mistakes of the past, which have been acknowledged and, for the most part, have been corrected? Why would the government allow the demise of a great institution critically important to the education of Aboriginal youth by cutting off long-term funding?

Please click here to read the full text of the Senator's question

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