A week in British Columbia: Part 2

Happy New Year!  

In my last blog entry I shared some thoughts on my recent visit to PIB, in the Okanagan, British Columbia. As I said already, it was a wonderful opportunity to be on the west coast.  I look forward to using the energy and ideas from the adventure as a spring board into the 2014.

The Okanagan journey was an "add-on" to the real trip to the ACCC Serving Indigenous Learners and Communities Symposium in Vancouver. I was attending the symposium as a panel participant, presenting as part of a discussion titled “College and Institute Environments that support Indigenous Education.”  In 20 minutes or less I spoke about CBU’s 35 year history of partnership with Mi’kmaw communities, Unamaki College, and the Purdy Crawford Chair in Aboriginal Business Development, more specifically, our experiences with student mentorship.

The symposium was informative and thought provoking. After the opening prayer and welcome, an address was provided by Jody Wilson-Raybould, Regional Chief Puglaas, BC Assembly of First Nations. She spoke with passion about the need for post-secondary institutions to develop course content and curricula that support strong community governance. She also suggested using the governance tool kit as a starting point for national work and community engagement.   That’s probably not a bad idea. Even though various regions and territories have had very different historical experiences and need to develop governance structures that work best for them, a consist approach to governance reform from coast to coast may keep all the core issues at the forefront of discussions.  

All of the presentations were very well done and important to indigenous education, but there were a few that stand out in my mind as I mentally prepare for 2014.

Duncan McCue provided the first Keynote Presentation. Everything he shared resonated with the work of the Chair. In particular, he spoke of the need to work with students in elementary and secondary schools so they will be ready to meet high expectations at a post-secondary level.

Tosh Southwick presented as part of two panels. The second time she spoke specifically about Yukon College’s role in “ensuring everyone in the Territory has a fundamental awareness of Yukon First Nations and modern day Land Claims,” an excellent goal which they really mean to achieve. Her team in First Nations Initiatives are piloting a Core Competency Project which would see all Yukon College students and staff meet a basic knowledge level in First Nation’s history and culture. I’m keenly interested in seeing the results of that project, and I’ve already mentioned it to a few people around CBU as well. 

Last but not least, Michel Doucet and Karen Leblanc discussed a partnership between Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick and Aboriginal Workforce Development Initiative to provide a Licensed Mobile App Development Program. Their project is exciting for so many reasons. Imagine classes full of Aboriginal students who know how to develop mobile apps, and they are just one province away still in Mi’kmaw territory. You know the Chair wants to speak to that crew about overlaps with our mentorship program.