THE Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre and Yellowquill College are set to merge, in the first phase of the development of a First Nations-governed post-secondary institute.
Winnipeg-based Yellowquill (an independent Indigenous college) has been open for 35 years, and the resource centre has been running for 20.
Both organizations say the merger is a good fit, giving students more options, with the goal of becoming the province’s first Indigenous post-secondary institution to offer both university and college courses.
Shirley Myran, the centre’s training institute manager, said the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs passed the resolution Oct. 18, 2018. The merger announcement was made last week.
The move makes sense, based on the school’s success alone, Myran said Monday. For example, she said 64 of 66 students recently graduated its resource teaching training program, and the two that failed will be returning in the winter term to complete the course.
"Had those people gone to one of the regular campuses, we would have lost maybe 40 or 50 per cent of them," she said.
Environment is a major factor when it comes to Yellowquill College’s success, Myran said. The college is small and everyone knows each other, making it easier for the staff to help struggling students, she said.
Bobbi Pompana, Yellowquill College interim director, agreed Indigenous students don’t get the same treatment at other colleges. "They’re just a number there."
Myran and Pompana said they know the announcement of the merger is just the beginning. However, the next step has been taken, Myran said, and a contractor is working on a proposal for an expanded campus. Organizers have also asked for funding for the developmental fees of the proposed institution.
Pompana said she is excited about the possibilities such a facility would offer students. Courses would be relevant to First Nations world views, languages, cultures, teachings and pedagogy, the educators said.
"I think there is so much potential for Yellowquill to grow and for the MFNERC’s training institute to grow," Pompana said. "So, if you merge them together to develop an Indigenous institute of higher learning, then you have both college and university — and I think that’s what we need."
— Kellen Taniguchi