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Although scattered Indian studies courses exist elsewhere, the new federated college will be the first in the world developed and operated by Indian people.
Fully 15 per cent of Saskatchewan's people are Indian and Metis. That only 125 of the provinces 43,000 Treaty Indians and only 46 of the province's 75,000 Metis were last year enrolled full time at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina, gives lie to the argument that the principle of equality of opportunity lives in Saskatchewan's education system.
The Federated College awaits approval of other university bodies. These formalities out of the way, Saskatchewan's Indians will have the opportunity to prove in a unique way what native people have been saying: "The native people themselves hold the key to solutions about Saskatchewan's native problems."
The Saskatchewan Indian Cultural College is the educational arm of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indians.
University President Lloyd Barber said the Federated College was a Proposal that was native-initiated and native inspired. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indians has negotiated for fully 10 years with the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Campus, for a similar arrangement without result. The University of Regina has entertained this Proposal for about a year.
Historically, colonized people have never been given opportunity to offer their historical and collective wisdom to their colonizers. The ignorance about Indian and Metis culture and traditions is rampant among people who settled Saskatchewan in the past century. For the first time, there will be a focal point where non-natives can learn from our native people about our native heritage.
There will also be a focal point for meeting of minds in this city that is badly needed. Too often the lack of forums for conflict resolutions have bred silent bitterness and misunderstanding.
The college will have an impact in Regina, the province, and the country on relationships between Indians and non-Indians. Growth in numbers of Indian professionals will over time, generate new respect for and the independence of Indian people.
Above all, the new college lay groundwork for the growth of the University of Regina into an educational institution that is both unique and formidable.
The college deserves full support from the people of Saskatchewan and from the university community.
The first Convocating Class of Regina. [left-right] - Earl Ermine, Dr. Lloyd Barber, Gordon Albert, Lucienne Garr, Dorothy Thomas, Maureen Merasty, Sidney Fiddler, and Linda McCallum. All are ISWEP students.
FSI Chief Dave Ahenakew addressing the Convocation Class.