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Kamloops program faces closure by 2011

February 22, 2010

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As an archaeologist, VP-academic Jon Driver has always valued the degree and certificate programs SFU offers on Tk’emlups Indian Band lands in Kamloops.

During the past two decades, hundreds of students at the tiny SFU satellite campus have taken courses focusing on the history, languages and culture of First Nations people.

But as Driver told staff and students at the campus Feb. 12, the facility is simply no longer sustainable and will begin winding down operations before 2011 unless alternatives can be found to keep it open. He cited three main reasons for the closure.

First, Kamloops now has had is own university—Thomson Rivers University (TRU)—which offers a wide range of programs and has a significant population of aboriginal students drawn from surrounding communities.

SFU was important when there was no university in town, says Driver, but considerable provincial and federal funding is now directed to TRU, which has a mandate to serve the city and region.

The second reason is that the SFU program, which has about 200 active students, has become too expensive to operate at a distance from the university’s Lower Mainland campuses.

“We intend to redirect our energies to First Nations students in the Lower Mainland,” says Driver, “to further development of our Burnaby campus First Nations Studies program and implement our First Nations Strategic Plan.”

But the third and decisive reason for closing is that “the physical space available to us has deteriorated to the point that we would have to engage in a major building or renovation project,” says Driver.

“We’ve worked with the Tk’emlups Band for three years to find a solution to this problem, either by renovating an existing building or by becoming leaseholders in a new building, but none of those options panned out.”

SFU will work with individual students to evaluate their programs and find ways for them to complete their credentials, says Driver, noting that TRU has offered to collaborate if students wish to transfer.

Driver had planned to meet with band Chief Shane Gottfriedson and a band council member to discuss the closure during his visit, but the meeting was cancelled due to illness and is being rescheduled.

In the meantime, Driver says SFU will look at continuing some of campus programs at other locations.

He adds: “Nobody wants to close down a program that is trying to help people who have the least access to post-secondary education.”

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Yvonne

I pray that this school remains open to ALL those whom seek an education. I have received my Aboriginal Pre-Health Certificate here at this location. I know that if i had entered the TRU for this same program i would not have succeeded because at this school they are so supportive and and always do go out of there way to help you in every way they can so that you will succeed. As a mother of 4 i will not be willing to uproot my home and children to attend school in burnaby, i do attend TRU but it is not the same as being here at the Kamloops location. I tell everyone that is thinking about coming back to school to come here to the kamloops location because of the positive experience that i have had.Please keep our school ooen. Sincerly Yvonne

Yvonne

I noticed that promoting Kamloops SFU location is not on the top tool bar along side with Burnaby,Surry and Vancouver? we need to promote this school better with your help. It would help with enrollment if we were more visible on the SFU homepage!

Darcy Deneault

i believe that the closure of this school along with the "catchment of first nations students to TRU," is an example of colonization. This school has been a great help to the first nations students who've attended it. I don't mean to be offensive, but making us, ( students of SFU Kamloops) attend TRU will result in a negative result. to place us in a totally different academic atmosphere would be catastrophic. an example would be taking a fish and trying to force it to live on land. I am informed that there is a excellent aboriginal program at TRU but it does not compare to SFU Kamloops. Why doesn't the bands of the students who attend this institution collaborate funds to support SFU Kamloops?

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