Over the last number of years, I have been honoured to provide leadership for First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in eastern Ontario. Now celebrating our 35th year as a post-secondary institute, we have provided unique learning experiences for thousands of Indigenous students.
These individuals have become titans of their fields, political leaders, aircraft pilots, essential health-care providers and social workers in both remote and urban communities. We very much celebrate these successes.
Indigenous peoples in Canada face a large educational disparity when compared to other populations. From the 2016 Canadian Census, only 61.6 per cent of Indigenous persons aged 15 and over obtained a high school diploma compared to 80.1 per cent of non-Indigenous persons.
Indigenous persons who did receive a high school diploma and went on to receive a post secondary degree was only 27.6 per cent compared to the non-Indigenous figure of 45.7 per cent.
Our proposed new facility, the projected growth in enrolment, new degree programs to be offered, and the opportunity to provide transformational learning for the coming generations of Indigenous learners will enable us to address this educational disparity.
COVID-19 has highlighted the already existing challenges. For example, our main campus building consists of a modular system of construction that has no central ventilation systems and is not suitable for students or staff. With increased enrolment and growing interest in programs, a new building is critically needed to provide educational spaces that are safe, accessible and equal to other post-secondary institutions.
As one of Canada’s leading Indigenous post-secondary institutes, FNTI is ready to fulfil the demand for quality educational experiences that Indigenous people are seeking.
FNTI has developed a state of the art net-zero facility that redefines the standard of post-secondary education for Ontario’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities. Enrolment of Indigenous students in post-secondary education is anticipated to triple within the next five to 10 years, FNTI is determined to meet the growing need.
The new facility is a carbon-neutral, environmentally friendly architectural design that produces zero greenhouse gas emissions, preserves fresh water, utilizes green materials and is designed to harmonize with its surrounding ecosystem.
This facility will provide the technology to advance Indigenous student research, innovation in cultural and social entrepreneurship, digital learning resources, governance, leadership, agriculture, health, justice, social programming, all founded in Indigenous knowledge.
We’re asking the provincial and federal governments to actualize their commitments towards Indigenous learners and education by investing in needed infrastructure now, in order to meet current and future needs.
The financial, cultural, and human benefits of these investments will close the gap and yield immeasurable returns.