AMS in solidarity

Assembly passes motion to ask federal government to restore First Nations University funding

Vice-President (University Affairs)-elect Chris Rudnicki, put forward a motion at AMS Assembly on Mar. 25 “for the Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University to issue a statement of solidarity with the students, staff and faculty of First Nations University (FNU) and call on the federal government to restore its $7.2-million operational grant.”

Rudnicki said the motion’s timing was crucial as the federal government intends to cut all funding for the FNU on Mar. 31, adding that the FNU provides important educational opportunities for First Nations and non-First Nations students.

Vice-President (University Affairs) Adam Zabrodski said he and the executive supported this motion.

Social Issues Commissioner Samantha Boyce and Academic Affairs Commissioner Susannah Gouinlock also supported the motion.

Other members of the voting body, such as Student Senator Mackenzie Dixon and Commerce Society Vice-President (External) Brooke Harvey, said they didn’t support the motion based on the alleged financial mismanagement of FNU.

Rector Leora Jackson said AMS Assembly should vote in favour of the motion to ensure there wouldn’t be financial mismanagement, adding that the AMS should have faith in the federal government.

After a contentious debate, Aesculapian Society AMS Representative John Doan put forward the motion to amend the initial motion so members could reach consensus on the issue.

The amended motion called for “the Alma Mater Society of Queen’s University to issue a statement of solidarity with the students, staff and faculty of First Nations University (FNU) to encourage the federal government to promote the continuation of their educational roles.”

Rudnicki, Gouinlock, Boyce and other voting members said they were against the amended motion. After a motion to stop the debate, the amended motion was passed with a marginal majority.

Rudnicki said he understands AMS Assembly’s decision, but the amended motion is still an empty platitude.

“I understand why [the motion] was amended,” he said. “Assembly is afraid of any concrete commitment to any cause.”

In proposing this motion, Rudnicki said he hoped to rally the AMS with Aboriginal students across Canada, but the amended motion lacks substance.

“The motion expresses a nice sentiment, but doesn’t stand in solidarity with Aboriginal students.”

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