A new First Nations University of Canada (FNUC) campus is in the works for Prince Albert following City Council’s approval of a letter of intent from the Indigenous post-secondary institution to purchase five acres of land near the Alfred Jenkins Field House for a nominal fee of $1 pending funding from the federal government.
Gord Hunchak, Vice President of University Relations, and Rebecca Morris-Hurl, Government Relations & Institutional Planning Officer, were in attendance of a special council meeting on Monday to discuss the land transfer and benefits of the construction of the proposed northern campus.
“It is a significant project for First Nations University of Canada, it’s our number one priority and it has been for a few years,” said Hunchak, who estimated the build will cost anywhere between $40 million and $60 million.
The proposed location immediately southwest and adjacent to 10th Avenue West and 28th Street West is an ideal site for the new campus, according to Hunchak. Being in close proximity to recreation facilities, major First Nations land holdings, and the Victoria Hospital means more accessibility and learning opportunities for future students.
“It’s important to us, it’s important to the City, and it’s incredibly important to the youth of the north,” he added.
Morris-Hurl said FNUC currently has just under 400 students that attend their current downtown campus but is expecting that number to increase to an estimated 600 following the construction of the new building.
The proposed concept consists of a 2 story 40,000 square foot building and is comprised of a mix of learning spaces and classrooms, teaching labs, library, audio visual studio, Indigenous health clinic learning space, assembly/exhibition space, lounges, student services, Indigenous fire art studio, childcare, elders & knowledge keepers spaces, ceremonial spaces, and administrative and support spaces.
A project proposal from FNU outlined some key benefits to the City of Prince Albert that the new campus would bring, including addressing numbers 11, 16, 43, 44, and 92 of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The City will also see positive economic impacts coming from the new build, according to the proposal; the construction will create 178 jobs annually and a labour income of $10.1 million for the community.
Some terms and conditions of the letter of intent that must be met in order for the project to proceed include the development being the sole responsibility of FNU and a timeline of 24 months for construction to commence.
City Council approved a similar request in 2021 from FNUC to purchased 5 acres of land near Saskatchewan Polytech for a new campus, but the agreement fell through after the post-secondary institution was unable to obtain funding from Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings fund.