IAESC Congratulates FNTI for 35th Anniversary Milestone

Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory – There were two notable Indigenous news stories in 1985.

At the Canadian federal level, Bill C-31 reversed discriminatory Indian Act legislation that removed status for women and their children if they married non-status people. At the same time, it returned power to elected bands to control development and regulate who could reside on reserves. It also ended the concept of enfranchisement, which forced Indigenous people to give up status for additional legal rights.

And the First Nations Technical Institute was incorporated provincially on July 31 on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, breaking important ground for Indigenous control of postsecondary education.

“The Indigenous Advanced Education and Skills Council congratulates FNTI on all their work, then and now, as they celebrate their 35th anniversary,” said Laurie Robinson, chair and executive director. “We are looking forward to supporting them and all the Indigenous Institutes at this important time as the newest pillar of postsecondary education and training in Ontario.”

Robinson acknowledged FNTI’s well-earned reputation for being able to deliver education in diverse locations.

Indigenous-owned and governed, FNTI has been delivering postsecondary programs rooted in culture and Indigenous ways of knowing in partnership with Ontario colleges and universities for almost four decades. They have learners from across Canada representing 102 of the 129 Indigenous communities in Ontario and an additional 74 First Nation, Metis and Inuit communities across Canada.

“We are thrilled to be celebrating this FNTI milestone with the world,” said Suzanne Katsi’tsiarihshion Brant, president at FNTI.

FNTI is planning a full schedule of events for the remainder of 2020 and throughout 2021 to acknowledge this important milestone. Many of the 4,000 graduates since have gone on to impressive careers and alumni student success stories will be featured. At the same time, FNTI will be shining a spotlight on its new student-centric virtual classrooms to give the world a look at a day in the life of their students.

Robinson said it is important to recognize milestones as well as the hard work it takes to begin initiatives. As an example, she noted the decade of work by the Native Women’s Association and Indian Rights for Indian Women leading to Bill C-31. Robinson also observed that the collaborative efforts in 1970 led to the Indian Control of Indian Education treatise setting the stage for actualizing education practice, systems and rights, from which Indigenous Institutes were born.

“Resilience, determination and adaptability are the core of our cultural strength and the cornerstones of both our history and future,” Robinson said, adding the COVID-19 pandemic is revealing opportunity as much as challenge.

“Indigenous Institutes have been quick to take the work online and demonstrating leadership in the knowledge economy.”