New housing at the College of New Caledonia (CNC) will provide homes for Indigenous students that reflect cultural values.
The official groundbreaking ceremony was attended by Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, members of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation, students, faculty and staff, as well as a host of other community members.
The college worked with the Lheidli T’enneh and other Indigenous peoples to ensure the housing is a welcoming and safe space for Indigenous students.
“A safe, welcoming and supportive home gives Indigenous students the foundation for continued success,” said Lheidli T’enneh Chief Clayton Pountney. “We’ve worked closely with our Elders and community members to get to the start of construction and look forward to the completion of the new building.”
The Province is investing $2.6 million in the new student housing facility that will provide 12 furnished student rooms, a suite for an Elder who will provide student support, a shared kitchen, living area, washrooms and laundry facilities, as well as a designated area for cultural practices, teachings and activities.
“Making that all-important leap to post-secondary education and training is a bold move for many students,” said Mark. “We are breaking down barriers for Indigenous students attending college in Prince George by opening doors and creating pathways to success. This isn’t just a building, it is reconciliation in action. Our commitment to putting reconciliation into everything we do will cultivate an environment to empower Indigenous learners to thrive.”
The Indigenous student housing building supports the Province’s commitment to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action.
The 440 square-metre (4,735 square-foot) building is located in the Lheidli T’enneh’s homeland at the college’s Prince George campus.
The building for first-year Indigenous students is being built next to existing student housing to help ensure students can easily participate in campus life.
The residence will be built to ensure it is energy efficient and supportive of the Province’s long-term climate strategy, the CleanBC plan. Occupancy is expected by spring 2020.
Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –
“This new housing development is a tangible example of our government’s commitment to reconciliation and helping build opportunities for the future for young Indigenous people, who will be the leaders of tomorrow. Many Indigenous students have to travel far from home to pursue post-secondary goals, and this special housing will give them a much-welcomed sense of community that champions their cultural identity and helps support their success at post-secondary school.”
Henry Reiser, president, College of New Caledonia –
“This project is a milestone achieved at CNC through collaboration and efforts spanning more than a decade. Many Aboriginal students arrive from small, rural and remote communities and have no experience securing rentals, utilities and community services. Having culturally supportive housing with Elder support will allow students to focus immediately on their studies, thus, greatly enhancing their ability to reach their education goals.”
- Approximately 20% of the student population at the College of New Caledonia is Indigenous, many from remote parts of northern British Columbia.
- The College of New Caledonia serves 21 First Nations communities.
- Article 21 in UNDRIP underlines the rights of Indigenous peoples to improve economic and social conditions, including education, training, and housing. Additional TRC Calls to Action point to the need to bridge education and employment gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.