Ottawa restores most of KTEI’s funding

School had been knocked back to 25 percent of federal funds

M’CHIGEENG—Good news arrived on the heels of a news story and editorial on the reductions in funding for post secondary student program funding at Kenjgewin Teg Educational Institute in M’Chigeeng as funding for five of eight programs were reinstated.

“We were informed today (September 6) at 4 pm that our federal funding for post secondary training has been approved,” said Stephanie Roy, KTEI executive director. “We will continue to proceed with delivering our suite of community based training programs of certificates, diplomas and degree credentials with our valued college and university partners.”

In response to inquiries that had been made into the issue by The Expositor, the Ministry of Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAC) provided background to the decision process: “The Post-Secondary Partnerships Program (PSPP) is a competitive, national, proposal-driven program with funding provided for projects based on merit and focused on meeting labour market needs. The program strives to support projects that deliver a program of study or develop new courses and programs tailored for First Nations and eligible Inuit post-secondary students.

“Project proposals are evaluated through a National Selection Committee, and as such the amount of funding received by applicant organizations varies from year to year based on the evaluation of their project proposal(s) against established criteria.

“INAC received over 220 project proposals for 2016-17, with requested funding totaling more than $49.2M. This well-exceeded the program’s budget of $10M.

“Through the 2016-17 National Selection process, 49 projects were funded for a total of $10M with approximately 60 percent of those funds awarded to projects at Indigenous post-secondary education institutions, and approximately 40 percent awarded to projects at non-indigenous post-secondary institutions.

“The KTEI submitted a number of proposals under the PSPP for 2016-17 and, as in past years, not all of their proposals were funded. In reviewing the results of the National Selection Committee, the department, in consultation with regional offices, recognized that some high quality proposals submitted for the 2016-17 National Selection process remained un-funded.

“INAC officials met with the organization the week of August 22 to discuss the organization’s concerns and emphasize the commitment to working in partnership to meet the needs of students. The Department continues to work with KTEI to identify potential sources of funding for their other program proposals. Additional funding has already been secured for KTEI’s Masters of Social Studies program.

“The government also recognizes the need to re-examine how it supports post-secondary education for First Nations and eligible Inuit students through engagement and ongoing dialogue with partners, including First Nations and post-secondary institutions.  As stated in Budget 2016, the government will work with students, parents, educators and indigenous groups to explore how to best ensure that students wishing to pursue post-secondary studies have the resources and supports they need to pursue their dreams.”

INAC issues an annual call for proposals, usually in the spring, and then undertakes a review of all proposals received, both at the regional level and the national level. Proposals are objectively assessed against established criteria by a National Selection Committee through a juried process and funded based on their evaluated merit. Applicants are notified of the decision regarding funding for their proposal(s) by letter, usually in early summer. Funding for successful proposals is provided through contribution agreements ranging from one to five years depending on the project.

Priority is given to project proposals that: focus on the labour market, with specific outcomes and objectives; lead to high-demand jobs in the Canadian economy or within First Nation or Inuit communities (such as governance); respond to the educational needs of First Nation and Inuit students, use innovative and efficient delivery methods to increase the availability of education in remote communities; have a plan towards financial self-sustainability, contain short duration, undergraduate level courses, and include funding partners with a firm commitment to monetary participation.

“Many thanks to the UCCMM Tribal Council, chairperson Chief Patsy Corbiere, Chief Linda Debassige, Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes and all of our friends and allies from all over Ontario including Christie Belcourt and supporters,” said Ms. Roy. “It is because of every one of our collective efforts that our funding has been fully reinstated.”

 “We are very happy we were able to move this along,” said Ms. Hughes, but added the caveat that “there has still been a reduction in funding, it is still problematic in relation to helping First Nations individuals with their education. We are still concerned that there was a reduction.”

Ms. Hughes noted that five out of eight of the Post Secondary Partnership applications had been approved. As for the original reduction in funding, Ms. Hughes said, “It was obvious that someone hadn’t done their homework.”

But both Ms. Hughes and KTEI have indicated that they are pleased with the reassessment in funding.

Laurentian University sent The Expositor a note indicating that they were unhappy with the mention in The Expositor of suggestions that their institution had received an increase in funding while funding flowing to KTEI had been reduced (August 31, 2016 page 4 ‘Liberals need to revisit local education funding’).

“Laurentian University does not receive any direct federal funding for students,” wrote Alex Freedman, chief of Staff, Office of the President. “Federal funding goes directly to First Nations, who decide how it is distributed.” This is true of funding for individual First Nations and other indigenous students, but the editorial in question was referring to program funding provided to institutions, not those funds provided to individual students.