|January 21, 2000||Volume 7, Number 9|
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
In response to Pankiws attack letter, Pres. says no Aboriginal hiring quotas
Following the Dec. 20, 1999 signing of an agreement between the U of S and the provincial government forming a partnership to work to increase the number of aboriginal people in the Universitys workforce, Saskatoon-Humboldt Reform MP Jim Pankiw wrote a letter to U of S Pres. Peter MacKinnon and Saskatchewan Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Jack Hillson condemning the move.
Pankiw said it smacked of racism and bigotry, and resembled the former segregationist policies of the southern United States. He said proponents of the agreement could be seen as "modern-day Klansmen".
On Jan. 14 U of S Pres. MacKinnon responded to Pankiws charges with the following letter to the editor, which went to selected newspapers.
To the editor:
There has been considerable media coverage regarding Jim Pankiws letter that responded to an agreement signed in December 1999. I hope you will allow me this opportunity to address some of the misconceptions that may have been created by that unfortunate letter.
The Aboriginal Partnership Agreement signed by the University of Saskatchewan and the Department of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs (IAA) is not about quotas or preferential hiring treatment. It is aimed at taking realistic and encouraging measures to help Aboriginals meet their employment goals.
The demographic trends of the province indicate that Aboriginal people will make up a large portion of Saskatchewans population in the future. If they are not qualified to participate in the labour force in much larger numbers than has been the case in the past, our Province will suffer the social and economic consequences. In addition, there is a very real possibility we will not have enough qualified applicants to fill all of our future employment needs.
The Agreement signed by our institution and IAA is focused on increasing the number of Aboriginal participants in the applicant pool. We are not interested in quotas or in giving preferential hiring treatment to anyone.
What we are prepared to do is ensure that Aboriginals are aware of the kinds of employment opportunities that are available on our campus and the skills that are required to fill them. With this information, Aboriginal governments can create and implement training and education programs that will prepare their people to compete successfully with others in the applicant pool.
We will also do everything in our power to ensure that our campus is a welcoming and appealing environment for Aboriginal people whether they are employees or students.
The University of Saskatchewan hires all faculty and staff based on their qualifications for the position. We could not compete on the national and international basis that is required of us if we were to do otherwise. However, we do have a responsibility to recognize the place that Aboriginal people have in this Province and offer our assistance in helping them achieve their employment goals.Peter MacKinnon
University of Saskatchewan
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