A new Aboriginal gathering place opening today at Camosun College will help Aboriginal students feel comfortable in their post-secondary education, assisting them to succeed in school and giving them more opportunity for good jobs to support their families.
First Nations drummers set the tone for the celebration, which was attended by Ida Chong, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Elders from Aboriginal communities and Camosun College officials and students.
The gathering place, located on the college's Lansdowne campus, provides a central spot for Aboriginal students and Elders to come together to mark special occasions and share their experiences.
The Province invested $610,400 in Camosun's new conical-roofed and open-sided wooden structure. The design was inspired by traditional Coast Salish building styles.
Camosun's gathering place is one of 27 being created at public post-secondary institutions across the province through a $13.6-million investment.
Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of Advanced Education -
"Recruiting and retaining Aboriginal students is critical in helping them succeed in their academic endeavours. Our government's funding of this gathering place ensures students have the support and environment they need. We know that when we support Aboriginal students in post-secondary, they are more likely to complete their studies and move on to good jobs to support themselves and their families."
Ida Chong, MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head -
"Gathering places are an important part of fostering a welcoming and respectful environment for Aboriginal students. When we can help improve and enhance their post-secondary experience, and their success in post-secondary education, it helps create a stronger B.C. for everyone."
Kathryn Laurin, president, Camosun College -
"This beautiful gathering place was built as a culturally welcoming building reflecting the character, community, and traditions of Aboriginal people. It will help us to support Aboriginal students, welcome the community, and house events that will strengthen ties between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities of Camosun College."
Janice Simcoe, Camosun College's Chair of Aboriginal Education & Community Connections -
"We've dreamed of a place like this for many years. The Gathering Place will provide a home for learning, for ceremony, and for the kinds of community interactions and connections necessary for Aboriginal student success."
* Aboriginal gathering places are designed to create a more welcoming environment for Aboriginal students by building structures that reflect Aboriginal culture and history.
* Over 21,000 students a year who enrol in public post-secondary identify themselves as Aboriginal. That is a 17 per cent increase since the Aboriginal Education Strategy was launched in 2007.
* The number of Aboriginal learners in public post-secondary institutions is increasing each year.
* Camosun's Lansdowne campus is located on traditional Coast Salish territory, and was long-known as a place to gather camas bulbs, which were a staple in the diets of the Coast Salish peoples, and used in trade with other First Nations.
* Camosun is a Lekwungen (Songhees) First Nation name for an area of Victoria "where different waters meet and are transformed".
Improving quality and choice in education is a key pillar of the Province's Pacific Leadership Agenda. The funding for gathering places also supports the government's commitments - through the New Relationship, the Transformative Change Accord and the Métis Nation Relationship Accord - to achieve parity in education, health, housing, and economic opportunities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal populations in B.C.
Learn more: http://camosun.ca/aboriginal/
Ministry of Advanced Education
Connect with the Province of B.C. at: www.gov.bc.ca/connect