Aboriginal students at Selkirk College and College of the Rockies will find support and a place to gather once construction is complete on the colleges’ newly announced Aboriginal Gathering Places. The two spaces, valued together at nearly $2.5 million, will be built thanks in part to a $400,000 contribution from Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).
“The Aboriginal Gathering Places will enhance culturally relevant support for current and future Aboriginal students, as well as provide an opportunity for others to learn about Aboriginal culture,” said Neil Muth, CBT President and CEO. “We’re pleased to help fund these projects, which will enhance our local institutions and improve the college experience of the Basin’s Aboriginal residents.”
According to the 2006 census, 6,695 status First Nations residents live in the Columbia Basin, including 677 on reserves in East Kootenay. Many live distantly from traditional support systems of family and community. The gathering places will also play a role in educating non-Aboriginal students about the history and culture of Canada’s First Nations.
“Our Gathering Place will create a more supportive, welcoming and relevant environment for Aboriginal students and will support Selkirk College’s goal to better attract, retain and graduate Aboriginal learners,” said Angus Graeme, Selkirk College Interim President.
While the projects are different in structure, timing and scope, the two colleges have committed to linking the spaces, as well as one at Okanagan College, to enhance operations and the effectiveness of events and presenters visiting the region. The gathering place at Selkirk should be completed by late spring 2011. The College of the Rockies will complete its space in two to three years, with contributions like timber, sawn lumber, gravel and labour coming from local Ktunaxa organizations.
CBT delivers economic, social and environmental benefits to the residents of the Columbia Basin. To learn more about CBT programs and initiatives, visit www.cbt.org or call 1.800.505.8998.
This article is a press release from Columbia Basin Trust.