Shq'apthut, a new Aboriginal gathering place opening today at Vancouver Island University (VIU), will help Aboriginal students feel comfortable and supported in their post-secondary education, assisting them to succeed in school and giving them the opportunity for good jobs to support their families.
Shq'apthut, meaning "a gathering place" in Hul'q'umi'num', is located on the university's Nanaimo campus. It will provide a special welcoming place for VIU's Aboriginal students and all others who attend VIU, as well as the university's community partners.
The building was designed to resemble a traditional Coast Salish longhouse, but with modern sustainable strategies, including rainwater collection and a green roof. The green-roof design reduces storm water runoff and reduces energy demands for cooling and heating the building. Rainwater is collected from the roof and is part of a filtration system used to flush toilets and irrigate landscaping.
The Province invested $600,000 in the new building, which includes a ceremonial space of approximately 140 square metres (1,500 square feet) that will be used for small gatherings and sharing of culture and traditions in an educational setting
VIU's gathering place is one of 27 being created at public post-secondary institutions across the province through a $13.6-million investment.
Ron Cantelon, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum -
"Our government's funding of this gathering place ensures students have the support and environment they need."
Dr. Ralph Nilson, president of Vancouver Island University -
"Vancouver Island University deeply values the partnerships with First Nations and other Aboriginal groups that have played such an important role in our evolution over the past 75 years."
"The new Gathering Place is a 'home away from home' for Aboriginal students and a place of learning, discovery and celebration for all of us on campus."
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, for a 17 per cent increase since the government's Aboriginal Education Strategy was launched in 2007.
The number of Aboriginal learners in public post-secondary institutions is increasing each year.
VIU's Nanaimo campus is located on traditional Snuneymuxw First Nation territory.
Vancouver Island University: http://www.viu.ca/sas/
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Advanced Education