University of Sudbury Indigenous courses cut at James Bay satellite sites
Up to 50 post secondary students in remote northern Ontario now in limbo with their degrees
The 40 to 50 students who are part of the University of Sudbury's James Bay initiative received some disappointing news this past weekend. Federal funding from Indigenous Northern Affairs Canada [INAC] will be discontinued once the current courses are completed in April.
Nine courses in Indigenous studies are currently offered at sites in Moose Factory, Fort Albany, Attawapiskat and Kashechewan.
The students could finish their degrees if they moved away from their home communities says Emily Faries, the professor who provides courses in Moose Factory.
"That means uprooting, not only themselves, but most of the students have families," she said.
The students don't have the same options as post secondary students who live near urban communities.
"We're isolated. All our communities are remote. There are no highways up here," Faries said.
She says that, by the university providing education to residents along the James Bay coast, it has helped with personal advancement and self-sufficiency.
She says education also allows students to contribute to their community.
"Like any other people, they have a right to an education."
The University of Sudbury partners with Mushkegowuk Tribal Council for the program. The two signed a memorandum of understanding when the first courses began in Moose Factory in 2013.
Grand Chief Jonathon Solomon only heard about the cut to the funding late last week.
"This is devastating," he said.
Solomon says he plans to get more information before seeing if there is anything he can do politically to help.
In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for the University of Sudbury say the explanation they were given from INAC was that the government agency's 2017-2018 funding would go towards what INAC considers multi-year projects or 2016-2017 proposals which had not previously been funded.
CBC News attempted to reach someone at INAC for comment, but no one responded in time for our deadline.