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SIIT creates foundation to provide scholarships, services to students

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By Sam Laskaris Sage Writer SASKATOON







An idea that has been in the works for a long time has finally come to fruition.

Officials with the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies announced in late October that they were launching a foundation.

Randell Morris, SIIT's president and CEO, said school officials had been entertaining the idea of having a foundation for about eight years now.

"It's our way to reach out publically to bring individuals and corporations closer to SIIT," Morris said about the establishment of a school foundation.

Over the years there have been various offers of assistance for those looking to help SIIT students. For example, in 2008 The Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin and Rockwell Collins, three aerospace and defence companies, collectively pledged $2.75 million to support SIIT's aviation trades training program.

Not only is the foundation anticipated to result in a major boost for the school, but it is expected to increase the opportunities for the First Nations youth and adults who are pursuing their post-secondary and vocational training through SIIT.

 October's announcement of the foundation launch, which was held off-campus, at a Saskatoon restaurant, did not provide many details. Morris said this was because it was only a prelude of upcoming news.

"This was just to say we have launched the foundation and that we are open for business," Morris said. "An official announcement of any contributions from corporations will be made in the near future."

Morris anticipates a news conference will be held in January to disclose more details about the foundation.

"I can't divulge who we are talking to now," he added.

Morris also said it is difficult to speculate on how much money individuals and businesses will put towards SIIT's foundation.

The school offered about $170,000 in scholarships this past year.
Morris said at this point it is impossible to speculate how many SIIT students would benefit from any new scholarships that would be started.

But there would be plenty of interest.

"There would be 25-50 students who would apply for different scholarships," Morris said.

Not all funds from the foundation, though, would go toward scholarships. School officials are also keen to improve SIIT's programming and student services. Daycare services and housing, both of which are not offered by SIIT, could benefit from funding from the foundation.

SIIT, which has campuses in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince Albert, has been around for 35 years. In 2000, provincial legislation officially recognized SIIT as a post-secondary institution.

SIIT currently has about 2,200 students at its three campuses. On behalf of the province it also operates various call centres, a benefit for customers and they can be communicated with in their preferred First Nations language.