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Phil Fontaine

e-dition - Volume 24 Number 18

University of Winnipeg Takes Leadership Role
in Aboriginal University Education Strategy

By Naniece Ibrahim

The University of Winnipeg brought together 22 university presidents and senior administrators from across the country and parts of the US to examine how universities can better serve Aboriginal students. The Roundtable on Aboriginal University Education, held May 24 on campus, was chaired by University of Winnipeg President and Vice-Chancellor Lloyd Axworthy, National Chief Phil Fontaine of the Assembly of First Nations, and President David Chartrand of the Manitoba Métis Federation and the Métis National Council.

In his address to graduands at Spring Convocation, Dr. Axworthy quoted National Chief Phil Fontaine: "the way out of poverty and the way forward is through education," he said. Education and breaking down the barriers to university for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students is crucial and was the inspiration for the historic roundtable discussions. At The University of Winnipeg, approximately 10 per cent of  the student population self-declare that they are Aboriginal, making UWinnipeg one of the leading universities in the country for Aboriginal participation.

The Aboriginal University Education Roundtable was possible thanks to funding from the Government of Canada's Office of the Federal Interlocutor and the Government of Manitoba.

The overwhelming response by participating institutions from across the country affirms the relevance of the roundtable discussions and desire to create change at the institutional and national level. A Roundtable Report will be followed by a larger symposium in Fall 2007. The symposium will provide feedback on a policy paper and strategic plan with the potential of establishing an annual Regional Consortium to ensure continued progress in the area of Aboriginal post-secondary education. The final outcome will be a comprehensive strategy for western Canadian universities that is developed in partnership with the Aboriginal community. 

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