MFNERC has learned about the end of federal government funding for Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate (WVC) after five years of operation and a 3.8 million dollar investment. This decision comes during a period of continued growth and success for WVC. Since its inception, the Collegiate has granted over 660 credits to its nearly 1,000 enrolled students. One more year of funding was expected through the federal government’s Education Partnership Program, with hopes for continued funding beyond this time period.
“WVC has made incredible strides and enjoyed numerous successes, most recently its accreditation, the first for an online institution in Manitoba. The federal government’s refusal of funding after such a significant investment is troubling and puts at risk the opportunity WVC has worked hard to provide for First Nation students.” – Lorne C. Keeper, Executive Director of MFNERC.
More than half of the First Nations in Manitoba are without a full high school program, forcing students to leave home to pursue their education. This contributes greatly to low high school completion rates within the First Nation population; an issue WVC was created to help resolve. By eliminating the need to leave home, high school success rates increase. Students who previously took courses through WVC will now either have to leave their communities or make do with the limited offerings available to them.
“WVC represents part of a solution to the high dropout rates of high school students. For the first time First Nations students have access to course options equitable to what urban students and parents expect in their neighborhood high school.” – Howard Burston, Director, MFNERC.
The success of WVC has led to collaborations with other educational institutions to improve education outcomes for all Manitoba students. Recently, WVC and the Winnipeg School Division signed an MOU to pilot WVC with 30 students in Winnipeg and discussions are ongoing with Seven Oaks and Louis Riel School Divisions. With the federal government’s decision to end funding, these MOUs are now in jeopardy.
Terminating funding for a successful program that addresses increased quality of education for First Nations students at a time when the federal and provincial governments say they are concerned with the issue is alarming. The school’s advantages to communities where many programs and courses are limited by funding, geography, and isolation are obvious.
Breakdown of communities / schools that Wapaskwa Virtual Collegiate has partnered with:
1. Long Plain First Nation – Brokenhead Ojibway Adult Learning Centre
2. Manto Sipi Cree Nation – Amos Okemow Memorial School
3. Southeast Tribal Council – Southeast Collegiate
4. Bunibonibee Cree Nation – 1972 Memorial School
5. Ebb and Flow First Nation – Ebb and Flow School
6. Northlands Denesuline First Nation – Petit Casimir Memorial School
7. God’s Lake Narrows First Nation School – God’s Lake Narrows First Nation School
8. St. Theresa Point First Nation – St. Theresa Point High School
9. Wasagamack First Nation – George Knott School
10. Fisher River Cree Nation – Charles Sinclair School
11. Chemawawin Cree Nation – Chemawawin School
12. Sandy Bay Ojibway Nation – Isaac Beaulieu Memorial School
13. Fox Lake Cree Nation – Fox Lake School
14. Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation (Nelson House) – Nisichawayasihk Neyo Ohtinwak Collegiate
15. Opaskwayak Cree Nation – Oscar Lathlin Collegiate
16. Peguis First Nation – Peguis Central School
17. Sagkeeng First Nation – Sagkeeng Anicinabae High School
18. Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation – Sergeant Tommy Prince School
19. Poplar River First Nation – Poplar River School
20. Pinaymootang First Nation – Pinaymootang School
21. Tataskwayak Cree Nation (Split Lake) – Chief Sam Cook Mahmuwee Education Centre
22. Pimicikamak First Nation (Cross Lake) – Otter Nelson River School
For more information contact:
Howard Burston, Director of IT
Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre Inc.
Work: 204-594-1290 ext 2010