Debates of the Senate  
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,Volume 147, Issue 27.
  Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Question Period: Indian Affairs and Northern Development

  Funding for the First Nations University of Canada

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate knows, 15 per cent of the Saskatchewan population is Aboriginal. As our honourable colleague has indicated, that population is growing rapidly, so that in a few years' time, 50 per cent of the population under the age of 25 will be Aboriginal.

Currently, 40 per cent of First Nations students in Saskatchewan who are enrolled in post-secondary education attend the First Nations University of Canada. We all know that post-secondary education is a major means to escape the cycle of poverty and to contribute socially and economically to the well-being of the whole province. It has recently been shown that Aboriginal women with degrees earn as much or more than non-Aboriginal women with degrees. It is vitally important that Aboriginal women get degrees.

If this government truly believes in the advancement of women that we need to look at the empowerment of women, as Senator Keon has stated earlier how can it not then fund the major institution that is educating and empowering Aboriginal women?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, in my previous answers I dealt specifically with the First Nations University in Regina. The government absolutely believes in the importance of education in our Aboriginal communities. That is why since 2006, we have invested $395 million for the completion of 94 school projects. Canada's Economic Action Plan provided for 10 new schools and three major renovations. The Building Canada Plan provides for eight new schools or renovation projects. I have said this to the honourable senator before. Last year we also invested more than $100 million over three years for the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership and $75 million in the new Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment Fund.

I cannot understand how the honourable senator could stand there and say the government is not taking this issue seriously, when clearly we are taking the issue seriously and investing considerable sums of money into the betterment of the education system for Aboriginals.