The official opening of the Aboriginal Gathering Place at the New Westminster campus of the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) marks the completion of 31 Aboriginal gathering places at all of the public post-secondary institutions in the province.
“The gathering place at the Justice Institute of British Columbia will support Aboriginal students as they work towards securing their future,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson, who attended the celebration at the JIBC New Westminster campus. “The 31 Aboriginal gathering places throughout B.C. make our public post-secondary institutions more inclusive and welcoming places for students and the communities that they serve.”
The JIBC Aboriginal Gathering Place will provide support services for Aboriginal students and will be a venue where both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students, staff, faculty and members of the community can experience and expand their knowledge of Aboriginal culture.
“It’s been a strategic priority for us to expand public safety education and training opportunities for Aboriginal learners,” said Dr. Michel Tarko, JIBC president and CEO. “Our new Aboriginal Gathering Place will serve as a centre for learning and exchange in support of our Indigenization Plan, which aims to ensure that culturally appropriate education and services are available for our students.”
Each of the Aboriginal gathering places is a unique space that reflects the culture and traditions of the Aboriginal students it serves. They are places where students can develop a sense of community and belonging. The 31 gathering places are used for a variety of purposes, including holding ceremonies, art-making, studying, conferences, mentoring and teaching.
The 31 Aboriginal gathering places support the Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Policy Framework and Action Plan. The overall goal of the action plan is to increase the number of credentials awarded to Aboriginal learners in B.C. The Ministry of Advanced Education funds a number of programs to support B.C. Aboriginal learners, including gathering places, scholarships and Aboriginal community-based post-secondary education and training.
“The Aboriginal Gathering Place at JIBC helps First Nations students like myself feel part of the institute,” said T.J. McCallum, a JIBC student in the Justice and Public Safety Career Preparatory Certificate program for Aboriginal learners delivered in partnership with Native Education College. “Spaces like these are important to help open new opportunities for Aboriginal people and Aboriginal students.”
The Ministry of Advanced Education provided $600,000 to the JIBC for the Aboriginal Gathering Place in 2015-16. A total investment of $15 million has supported the creation of 31 Aboriginal gathering places at public post-secondary campuses throughout B.C. since 2008.
- Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education and Training Framework and Action Plan: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/aboriginal/docs/Aboriginal_Action_Plan.pdf
- Aboriginal Education B.C. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AboriginalEdBC
- Justice Institute of British Columbia: http://www.jibc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.