National Day of Action goes off without a hitch
A couple hundred students came out on Feb. 1 to join the National Day of Action at the University of Regina. Similar events were also happening at campuses around the country on that day.
The event, put on by the University of Regina’s Student Union and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) was held to address growing student concerns, which includes the rising cost of tuition and the post-secondary accessibility for First Nations people. Students marched from the Riddell Centre to the First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) to hold a short rally and listen to speakers such as Little Black Bear First Nation Chief Perry Bellegarde.
Although there was a low student turnout, organizers were still happy with the results.
“I am very happy a lot of people from the community, from the faculty, and students came out,” said Paige Kezima, URSU Vice-President of External Relations. “It’s great.”
Among those community members in attendance were Senator Lillian Dyck and Rosemont Regina MLA Trent Wotherspoon.
“I am a very strong believer in education,” Dyck said.
“Post-secondary education is so important to individual health and to the health of the community, especially among First Nations people, because there is a big gap in education.
“I think as a country we have a moral obligation to ensure that all of our citizens are educated to the same level.”
Dyck is also in support of removing the two per cent cap on the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP). The program provides assistance to eligible First Nations and Inuit students; eligible students are either Registered Status Indians or Inuit students residing out of the Northwest Territories or Nunavut. The program provides support for tuition, travel, and living expenses. With the two per cent cap on the program since 1996, it means fewer students have the opportunity to receive funding. Last year it was estimated that 1,000 eligible people from Saskatchewan were unable to receive funding due to the cap.
MLA Trent Wotherspoon said it was important to attend this event and support students on important issues such as accessibility to education.
“I simply commend students for speaking out to community issues; it means so much to our next generation and also our economy and so wonderful to our students who stand up with pride with so many community partners.” Wotherspoon said. He went on to say that post-secondary education is not just important from a social perspective, but also from an economic perspective.
For student Dayle Steffen, there was no question about coming out to protest.
“I wanted to come out because I think the price of it [tuition] is absolutely ridiculous,” said. “I’m on student loans, and even my students loans don’t cover tuition, it’s that high. I wanted to come out here and make a difference.”