Selkirk College successfully opens the Aboriginal Gathering Place in Castlegar
In June of 2010 Selkirk College marked the beginning of construction on their Castlegar campus Aboriginal Gathering Place with a ceremonial blessing and ground breaking. On May 24, 2012 they celebrated the official opening of the facility with over 100 invited guests in attendance.
“The Gathering Place project was initiated over three years ago with a successful proposal to Government. The project has always been grounded in the vision of a better college for Aboriginal learners, about the connection between celebrating culture and access to post-secondary education.” Selkirk College President, Angus Graeme goes on to say, “The Gathering Place is critical to building and strengthening relationships in the wider Aboriginal community that the college serves including partner governments, Aboriginal post-secondary institutions, and community service providers. Today was a very important day for Selkirk College. We’re so honoured to be working with our partners to support more meaningful access to post-secondary education.”
The guest list for the celebration included representatives of the Aboriginal groups with which the college has collaborated in the development of the Gathering Place and on behalf of learners from the Aboriginal community. Members of the Ktunaxa Nation Council, the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Métis Nation of B.C., and the Sinixt Nation Society were all in attendance.
Speakers representing Aboriginal governments spoke of the critical need to make post-secondary education more accessible, welcoming, and respectful of Aboriginal learners and their cultures, since participation in higher education improves capacity building across the board.
Funding for construction of the facility began with a successful application for $600,000 from the provincial government’s Gathering Places Capital Fund.
“One of the Province’s goals is to increase Aboriginal people’s success – both at school and in the labour market. Selkirk College is helping to support this goal by focusing on its Aboriginal student community and by providing services to support their success,” says the Honourable Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of Advanced Education.
In December 2010 Columbia Basin Trust announced the contribution of $200,000, and in the fall of 2011 Teck Metals Ltd. Trail Operationsdonated an additional $50,000.
“Our support of Selkirk College’s Aboriginal Gathering Place is another opportunity for Teck to be part of the college’s commitment to learners, in this case aboriginal learners,” said Greg Belland, General Manager, Teck Trail Operations. “It is our belief that the Gathering Place will truly achieve its primary goal of providing a welcoming environment for Aboriginal students, which will help them achieve educational success. We are proud to contribute to this initiative.”
Also in attendance were representatives of major donors, local and provincial government, and college staff.
The public will have their chance to visit the new facility at an open house which will take place on Thursday and Friday, May 31 and June 1, 2012 from noon till 6:00 p.m.