Wisdom and perspective from regional Aboriginal Elders is now available to Selkirk College students through a new program at the Gathering Place on the Castlegar Campus.
In late-September, the Elders Program was launched at a gathering that included individuals from around the region who joined with Selkirk College students and staff to celebrate the new initiative.
Aboriginal Elders from across the region celebrated the new Selkirk College Elders Program with students and staff at the Gathering Place on the Castlegar Campus.
“Throughout the year, we hope to accommodate a regular presence on campus so that students can continue to receive support and guidance from the Elders and build relationships with them,” says Jessica Morin, Selkirk College’s Aboriginal Services Liaison.
The September 24 launch was an opportunity for Elders to connect with students and with each other. Selkirk College students played a major role in hosting the gathering and were able to honour the Elders for their contributions and commitments to supporting them as students. The program will run for the duration of the academic year.
The program has several goals that will be strengthened over the next few months. Students will have an opportunity to make connections with Elders in gaining a wider sense of community and intergenerational connections. It will also allow Selkirk College staff and faculty to get to know Elders and develop a deeper understanding of indigenous perspectives.
“Selkirk College is a vibrant learning environment,” says Morin “The Elders offer so much support and have vital knowledge to contribute to indigenization efforts.”
An Important Part of Educational Landscape
The Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s important work over the last three years has identified education as key to Canada’s efforts in reconciliation. The Selkirk College Elders Program will help guide efforts in addressing some the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, particularly the ones related to education.
“Although we recognize that change will not happen overnight, we can start by acknowledging indigenous ways of knowing and the importance of the indigenous languages and culture as an essential part of our educational landscape,” says Morin.
Selkirk College operates throughout a wide region in the West Kootenay-Boundary. The college works within the traditional territories of multiple First Nations and within this traditional landscape. The Elders involved in the program come from a number of different communities including the Okanagan, Cranbrook, Creston, Slocan Valley, Inchelium (Washington), Nakusp, Kaslo, Grand Forks, Trail, Nelson and Castlegar. One of the additional benefits of the program will be for the Elders to also build relationships with each other.
Near the end of the academic year there will be an honouring breakfast for the graduates of the 2015-2016 year. All Elders involved in the program will be invited to return and connect with the students.
The Selkirk College Elder Program is sponsored by Columbia Power Corporation, Teck Trail Operations and Fortis BC.