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Shauneen Pete '83 Begins Six-month Term as FNUniv President

2010-04-12

Shauneen Pete begins six-month term as FNUniv president

Shauneen Pete has returned to the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) and she couldn't be happier.

"It really feels like I'm going home," she said.

Pete began her six-month term as the university's president on Thursday.

"There's much work to be done in a very short period time," said Pete. "But I think that the work both the board has done and the interim administration team has done has really paved the way for my role coming in at this point."

On Wednesday, she accompanied FNUniv Chief Operating Officer Del Anaquod and FNUniv board of governors chair Joely BigEagle on a one-day information session. The group met with faculty, students and staff at the Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert campuses to give everyone an update on the university's situation.

"We (shared) information and (updated) folks on the board meeting and some of the decisions and responses from (Tuesday's) news," said Pete.

She was referring to the federal government announcement that it was prepared to invest up to $3 million in funding through the Indian Studies Support Program for expenses related to programming for students at the First Nations University so they can finish their academic year, which ends Aug. 31.

"The $3 million that has been offered by the federal government is partial," she said. "In order to be able to sustain any of the students (at this institution) students do need the full funding and that's priority No. 1 right now."

She has no hesitations about taking the helm as the university continues to tread through troubled waters.

"I'm going to be spending the next few days getting caught up on the paperwork, the memorandums, making myself familiar with the steps that have been put in place," said Pete. "It's work that I'm embracing."

She held the position as the vice-president of academics at FNUniv in the spring of 2007 until she was fired by senior administration in January 2009. At the time of her dismissal Pete raised concerns about the operations of the institutions, but spoke highly of the staff at FNUniv.

The new president has been a very visible supporter of the institution and joined students and staff as they marched to the legislature in February and March.

At last month's march, Pete spoke as an educator, a mother and an activist about the need to keep the FNUniv open for future generations. It's a message she's carrying forth in her new role as president.

Pete wants to remind everyone that FNUniv has a long history in the province and it plays an important role in the community.

She plans on focusing the next six months working with others to get federal funding restored to the university.

"I have to commend all the folks that have been involved to date," said Pete. "They have worked under time crunches and in some ways impossible odds. They've done it with grace and dignity and they've carried forward with a very clear focus and I hope to assume that very clear focus as of (Thursday) morning."

kbenjoe@leaderpost.canwest.com

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