The B.C. government is investing $639,359 into CNC to enhance Aboriginal learners’ experiences. Campuses in Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James and Vanderhoof will benefit.
The service plans were first announced in 2007 and since then they have funded elders-in-residence programs, Vanderhoof has one elder on campus and so does Fort St. James.
“The plan is to support First Nations and Aboriginal learners and their access, retention, transition and success in post-secondary education,” said Maureen Mallais, regional director for CNC Vanderhoof. “The thing for our college is that we’ve really focused on building relationships with our First Nations communities.”
Other programs funded include cultural events, mentoring programs, cultural awareness training, development of Aboriginal curriculum and courses, community-based education and bridging programs for Aboriginal learners.
“Ensuring that Aboriginal learners’ needs are met is important to making post-secondary programs effective, responsive, and supportive,” said John Rustad MLA for Nechako Lakes and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs in news release. “Aboriginal Service Plans work towards this goal, and the funding being given to the College of New Caledonia to support this initiative will help improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal students.”
CNC Vanderhoof’s curriculum is a little Euro-centric according to Mallais and so they try to embed Aboriginal content in lessons as much as would make sense. There are Aboriginal medicines added into the lessons as well as the political structures and clan systems.
“It’s not just about our Aboriginal learners,” said Mallais. “We see that it works to support everybody in their success at the college. The notion is that as we create a better awareness overall of Aboriginal culture that everybody benefits and it also creates that comfort level in the environment.”