As we enter the Twenties… here is a look back eight storylines that made 2019 a success.
Roadmap To Our Future
In June, Selkirk College released Building Remarkable Futures: Strategic Plan 2019-2014. The document represented the culmination of community consultation, employee engagement, student input and the core values that have steered the regional college for more than 50 years. With a fresh mission statement of: “Together we build remarkable futures,” the strategic plan provides an advanced pledge of enhancing the lives of both students and members of the community.
Members of the Selkirk College Strategic Plan Committee gather to mark the compleition of the five-year plan used to help guide the institution.
“The strategic plan is a living document that reflects the opportunities of today’s post-secondary environment,” Selkirk College President Angus Graeme said upon release of strategic plan. “Every five years, we have a chance to really examine what is working, what has changed and what needs to be improved upon. This document was carefully prepared and there are some lofty expectations we have put on ourselves as a public post-secondary. We look forward to executing and staying true to all we have learned in putting it together.”
For more than 50 years, Selkirk College has provided the education and training required to make our graduates vital contributors to their communities. Through valued input from stakeholders, plans like those released in 2019 help ensure that Selkirk College delivers responsive programming that makes a difference.
Exciting New Chapter for Silver King Campus
The BC Vocational School first opened in Nelson’s Rosemont neighbourhood in 1964 and for five decades the trades-based campus equipped students with the skills and training needed to help build communities in our region and beyond. Shortly after its 50th birthday celebration party in 2014, the Silver King Campus began an ambitious $23.2 million refresh project that broke ground in October 2016. In August 2019, the ribbon was cut on the completed project that included a substantial overhaul of shop spaces, a new Carpentry Program shop and a beautiful new Student Commons Building.
Kootenay West MLA and Minister of Children & Family Development Katrine Conroy speaks at the announcement of funding for the Silver King Childcare Centre that took place on the Nelson-based campus in December.
“Students in the Kootenays will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and the equipment they need to be industry ready,” Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills & Training, said at the ribbon cutting event that invited the entire community to join. “Our government is delivering 21st Century trades training to give students the hands-on experience they need to get high paying, family supporting jobs and be a part of building the best in BC.”
The energy on the Silver King Campus continued to build in September when Selkirk College welcomed Nelson-based research company D-Pace to the mix. A leader in the international particle accelerator industry, D-Pace took over the former Electrical Program shop that was slated for demolition with the intent of building an Ion Source Test Facility. The partnership is another great example of what is possible when post-secondary is found at a local level.
Just before the year closed, the Provincial Government announced $1.2 million in funding to build the Silver King Childcare Centre on campus. With partners Kootenay Kids Society and Columbia Basin Trust, a total of 24 new childcare spaces will be provided when the centre is complete. Providing quality childcare that is accessible to students will ensure that post-secondary goals can be reached by those who have children.
The Road to Reconciliation
At the end of October, Selkirk College completed and presented its Indigenization Plan 2019-2024 which stresses the importance of continuing to strengthen Indigenization and decolonization efforts at the post-secondary level. Elders, First Nation and Metis partner governments, students, scholars and community leaders gathered at the Castlegar Campus for the launch of the 12-page document.
Selkirk College Indigenous Studies Instructor Elizabeth Ferguson (middle) at the official launch of the Indigenization Plan 2019-2024 is a shining example of how students are getting the education and wisdom required to make a difference in the future.
“Post-secondary is a place where discussion, dialogue, learning and leading social change really does make a difference,” said Selkirk College President Angus Graeme. “Selkirk College aspires to be a leader in the inspiring work of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Students expect post-secondary institutions to be invested in the work of decolonization and Indigenization. This is exciting work for all of us at the college.”
The plan was well received by those who helped provide valued input and those who will work on making the plan an important part of college life in the coming years.
“I am proud to be part of a college that is taking the steps to integrate Indigenous history and teachings into its curriculum,” said Sophia Wuttnee, a student in the Human Services Diploma Program. “It was an honour to watch the unveiling of Selkirk College’s Indigenization Plan, brimming with true care and respect for all.”
Leading the Way on Sustainability
As one of the region’s largest employers and home to more than 2,800 students, Selkirk College has a big impact on the West Kootenay and Boundary. One way the college is proudly shrinking its footprint is through sustainability initiatives to lessen the impact on our environment.
The Selkirk College crew that helped install the 275 solar panels on the roof of the Castlegar Campus do some final adjustments.
Environmental sustainability is one of the fundamental commitments at Selkirk College. Through leadership provided by Sustainability Coordinator Laura Nessman and the Environmental Sustainability Committee, tremendous work was accomplished in 2019. From greening up the vehicle fleet with the addition of fully electric vehicles to turning down the heat by two degrees on Sweater Day to improvements in recycling on all campuses, the daily work being done is making a difference. Though recognition is not the goal, in 2019 Selkirk College did manage to take the title of the “Coolest Campus in BC” through the BC Cool Campus Challenge and received the coveted silver rating on an international level through the AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS).
On a larger scale, sustainability efforts at Selkirk College became very visible when 275 solar panels were installed on the roof of the main building at the Castlegar Campus. One of the largest installations in the region, the $190,000 project was completed in October and will provide approximately 10 per cent of the annual electricity at the campus.
You can find out more about all Selkirk College’s sustainability efforts here.
Driving Force Behind Our Changing Cultural Landscape
As part of the province-wide upward trend in post-secondary international student enrolment, Selkirk College welcomed more than 700 learnes from across the globe to its campuses in 2019. As the world continues to shrink through technology, this internationalization of our region is a perfect fit for the future. It doesn’t come without challenges.
Kristina De Castro (left) and Anju Pradeep (right) are students in Selkirk College’s Post-Graduate Diploma in Gerontological Nursing Program on the Castlegar Campus. The Selkirk College Gala 2019 raised funds for scholarships and bursaries to help both international students and domestic students who study abroad pay for the cost of their education.
As the Winter Semester drew to a close in March, students in the Peace & Justice Studies Program invited the community to an open dialogue in Castlegar to discuss the growth in the number of international students in the region. International students shared experiences of leaving their homes and adapting to Canadian culture. Locals were encouraged to ask questions and open up discussion on a number of issues. The ultimate goal was increased understanding.
In November, the annual Selkirk College Gala at the Tenth Street Campus in Nelson raised money for scholarships and bursaries focused on international students and domestic students who choose to take some of their studies abroad. More than $25,000 was raised at the Remarkable Together-themed Gala 2019. One of the highlights of the evening was a speech by student Kristina De Castro who arrived from Philippines to study in the Post-Graduate Diploma in Gerontological Nursing Program. The single mother of a seven-year-old son told those in attendance about the sacrifices and struggles required to reach a goal of a better life in Canada.
Trust Placed in Regional Post-Secondary
Remarkable post-secondary in our region requires a community effort to ensure success. One of the most enthusiastic supporters of Selkirk College over the decades is Columbia Basin Trust and in 2019 they turned up the volume on support. In March, the Trust announced $6 million in funding to be split between Selkirk College and College of the Rockies in the East Kootenay. The funds are being used to enhance the quality, availability and uniqueness of the rural college experience.
Columbia Basin Trust President and CEO Johnny Strilaeff (middle left) and Selkirk College President and CEO Angus Graeme (middle right) gather in front of Selkirk College’s Castlegar Campus with students from a variety of programs to recognize the new partnership that aimes to innovate and enhance the college experience.
“We know that education is the foundation to social, economic and environmental well-being, and our strong relationship with both colleges and our shared commitment to meeting the needs of local communities allows us to continue to elevate the local post-secondary experience,” said Johnny Strilaeff, Columbia Basin Trust President and Chief Executive Officer. “In our rural context, both colleges already offer an amazing experience for students, and this partnership means we can do even more to create the best experience, with the best technology, and support workforce development right here in the Basin.”
The support did not end there. Through its Child Care Support Program launched in 2017, Columbia Basin Trust also contributed $300,000 to a partnership between Selkirk College and Kootenay Kids Society that will see 24 much-needed childcare spaces created on Nelson’s Silver King Campus. In December, the Silver King Childcare Centre received $1.2 million from the Provincial Government for the project that was not possible without Trust support.
For the Kids
The Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE) Program is one of the foundational offerings at Selkirk College. In May, the ECCE Program celebrated its 40th year of education and training for those entering this vital career path. The major milestone brought together four decades of alumni who have been vital to the sector in the West Kootenay region and beyond. Included in the celebration was Minister of Children & Family Development Katrine Conroy who graduated in the first cohort, taught in the ECCE Program and went onto impactful work in the sector before moving into politics.
Current students, faculty, community leaders and alumni gathered for the ECCE 40th Anniversary celebration on the Castlegar Campus in May.
“This program has had deep and lasting impacts on our region over the last four decades,” said Taya Whitehead, a graduate of the program, respected veteran of the sector and now the Dean of Selkirk College’s School of Health & Human Services. “There have been generations of kids who have benefited from the care provided by our alumni and we are extremely proud of the contributions made by our graduates.”
Selkirk College continues to be on the leading edge of the sector in a variety of different ways, including the Early Childhood Education Work-Integrated Learning Pilot Project that supports the Provincial Government’s efforts to understand how alternative education pathways for early childhood educators can best support the current childcare workforce. The pilot project is aimed at increasing the number of certified early childhood educators as British Columbia continues to push to lead the nation in accessible, quality childcare.
Building Spirit in Changing Times
The Selkirk College Saints hockey team is an important driver of student life on campus and helps bring the entire community together during the winter months as the student-athletes compete in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL). The team takes on established four-year schools and continues to represent the region province-wide as they go for their fifth championship in 2020.
Helping unveil the new logo in June was: (L-R) Angus Graeme (Selkirk College President), Kadrian Klimchuk (Selkirk College Saints player), John Kincaid (Vice President of Students & Advancement), Kim Verigin (Department Head for Athletics, Recreation & Student Life), Kayla Martin (Athletics & Recreation Assistant) and Rhonda Schmitz (Director of Student Development).
Off the ice in 2019, there were several changes for the Saints. After the 2018-2019 season ended, veteran coach Brent Heaven moved on after a stint behind the bench that included a pair of championship seasons. In June, Dave Hnatiuk was hired and made his way from the University of Regina where he was assistant coach. Added to the excitement was an awesome new logo that helps reflect mountain life in the West Kootenay. In the last game before the holiday break, fans at the Castlegar & District Recreation Centre were introduced to the Saints new mascot… a fun-loving Saint Bernard that will help build the excitement and boost the players on the ice.
Since 1966, Selkirk College has helped the region prosper through providing remarkable post-secondary education in West Kootenay and Boundary communities. With a new decade upon us, the daily work on our campuses will continue to produce highlights worth celebrating.