ST. PAUL - University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills is approaching the close of its 50th anniversary, which offers a time to reflect on the challenges and achievements that have been met.
"In the summer of 1970 when our ancestors claimed this school, the government and churches did not believe we could do this, but our people believed, and we still believe that we can and we must create programming and learning spaces that honour who we are and what we know," says Sherri Chisan, president at UnBQ.
Five decades later, the school has transitioned into a university, offering unique, homegrown programs with certificates, diplomas, degrees, masters, and doctorates, as well as welcoming learners of all cultures.
"Over 4,000 graduates are working in their own communities, in government, industry, and the academy," explains Chisan. "We are accredited by the National Indigenous Accreditation Board and the Board of Accreditation of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium."
These accomplishments have been achieved "with substandard operational and program funding from the Crown . . . When our ancestors made Treaty with the Crown, we agreed to share our territories and the Crown agreed to share the revenues. Sadly, the Crown has not honoured its responsibilities," says Chisan.
This summer, from July 5 to 9, UnBQ will open its doors to the world - virtually. When the university put in a bid to host the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC) and the World Indigenous Research Education Conference (WIREC), it was expected that the post-secondary institution would be welcoming visitors from across the globe.
"Sadly, the pandemic has changed that, but we will proceed with a simultaneous virtual and on-site event for those visitors who are able to travel. So, as we have always done, we do the best we can with what we have," says Chisan. "We do thank the federal and provincial governments that are looking for ways to provide some funding for this event."
The first two days of the event are dedicated to the annual general meeting of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium. The last three days are the World Indigenous Research and Education Conference. The events are open to the public, and there is a registration fee
More information can be accessed online by visiting www.WINHEC-WIREC-2021.com
"We welcome our neighbours to take this opportunity to learn more about the Indigenous cultures of the world," says Chisan. "The last year has been challenging. The last 300 years have been challenging. But we continue to work towards the future our ancestors envisioned."