Xstrata backs [Sudbury Laurentian] native centre – by Harold Carmichael (Sudbury Star – June 22, 2011)

Laurentian University’s $3 million Indigenous Sharing and Learning Centre is now almost halfway to becoming a reality.

“This is something that is very near and dear to Xstrata Nickel and our sustainable nickel developments,” Marc Boissoneault, vice-president of Xstrata Nickel’s Sudbury opera-t ions, said Tuesday as he announced a $1-million donation toward the centre.

The donation, part of the university’s Next 50 Campaign (a $50-million fundraising campaign to mark Laurentian’s 50th anniversary), was made during National Aboriginal Day celebrations at the university.

“We are always interested in building community sustain-ability, especially in the area of learning … It’s certainly understood in the many small mining operations in the North (to get First Nation people involved). It’s a win-win on all sides. “When you look at it from an industry position, an Xstrata Nickel position, a personal position, this just makes sense.”

The donation brings the $50- million campaign to $38.6 million. The Centre for Indigenous Sharing and Learning component is now at $1.4 million, having earlier received a $400,000 donation from the Royal Bank of Canada.

Laurentian president Dominic Giroux said “this is an exciting day for many reasons. We highlight National Aboriginal Day. And we are proud of our tri-cultural identity here at Laurentian University.”

The university has more than 700 First Nation students.

John Beaucage, a member of the Next 50 Campaign team and former grand council chief of the Anishinabek Nation, said the centre will go a long way to helping First Nation students further their education.

“Our language, our culture — it’s the foundation to understanding who we are: our identity,” he said.

“The history of our people, our native history, is so important. It can’t be part of an adjunct to Canadian history. It’s First Nation history that goes back thousands of years.”

Dawn Madahbee, who is also a member of the Next 50 Campaign team, said the centre will serve an important purpose on the Laurentian campus.

“It’s a centre that is going to be so important to our people and critical to getting them (First Nation students) here and continuing their education at the university level,” she said.

Longtime native educator Grace Fox, who is a trustee with the Rainbow District School Board, was also named as the recipient of the Laurentian University Native Person of Distinction Award.

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