From left: Ali McDougall, Indigenous relations and executive advisor to the president’s office, Sheree Ronaasen, university credit professor, Ska’yan (Anita Davis), a Gitxsan hereditary chief, and Bridie O’Brien, CMTN’s executive director of Indigenization, all made presentations on Nov. 5. (Contributed photo)

From left: Ali McDougall, Indigenous relations and executive advisor to the president’s office, Sheree Ronaasen, university credit professor, Ska’yan (Anita Davis), a Gitxsan hereditary chief, and Bridie O’Brien, CMTN’s executive director of Indigenization, all made presentations on Nov. 5. (Contributed photo)

Coast Mountain College’s indigenization efforts recognized at international symposium

Collaboration and community are key to Indigenous reconciliation in education, CMTN says

Coast Mountain College’s work to indigenize its curriculum and provide more support for Indigenous students saw international attention at an education symposium earlier this month.

Representatives from Northwest B.C. shared examples of their efforts at the 2019 Indigenous Education Symposium, where educators from across Canada and internationally gathered from Nov. 4-6.

Bridie O’Brien, CMTN’s executive director of indigenization, Ali McDougall, Indigenous relations and executive advisor to the president’s office, Sheree Ronaasen, university credit professor and Ska’yan (Anita Davis), a Gitxsan hereditary chief, all made presentations on Nov. 5.

“We’ve learned that we have been on the right track, and we’re making great progress,” says O’Brien.

“At the end of our presentation we received feedback from a Métis elder who was very emotional and moved by seeing all that we are doing at CMTN, because coming from his personal experience, he never imagined that we could come this far.”

READ MORE: New mobile training unit coming to Coast Mountain College

Through similar efforts, universities and colleges have the opportunity to advance reconciliation and strengthen relationships in their own communities, O’Brien says.

“It is an opportunity for us to shift perspectives and create awareness and understanding about the truth and the history of the relationship that this country has with Indigenous people,” she says.

Indigenous students make up between 38 to 49 per cent of CMTN’s student population, depending on how many have self-declared, according to communications director Sarah Zimmerman.

The first step for educators? Building lasting relationships with local First Nation communities.

“Making sure that your Indigenous communities are part of the idea right from the onset, and it’s built together,” O’Brien says.

For example, one of the speakers, Ska’yan, has hosted the People of the Skeena Field School at the culture camp she runs on the banks of the Skeena River in Terrace for more than a decade.

There, students immerse themselves in Gitxsan culture and history, while learning about the traditional usages of plants, including the tree of life, cedar weaving, and other traditional activities, such as the preparation of smoked salmon.

CMTN has several other programs with an Indigenous focus, including its world-renowned Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art, early childhood and development, criminology, and art history. To support students, the college also has an Indigenous support team, scholarships and bursaries, First Nation access coordinators to connect students with services, and workshops to reconnect students with their culture.

READ MORE: Northwest Coast Art from Freda Diesing students showcased at Terrace Art Gallery

Authenticity is one of the most important aspects for educational institutions when it comes to incorporating Indigenous perspectives, O’Brien says.

Much of the work that has been done has involved CMTN’s First Nations Council which has representatives from across the region to provide advice and guidance to programs and services, a model that could be beneficial for other university and college campuses.

And for the last three years at CMTN, campus staff have used the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action as a way of measuring their own progress in programming and training. New positions and titles have been created to support management, and the college is now hoping to hire someone to help bridge the gap between Indigenous culture and knowledge, and curriculum taught in the classroom.

Coming out of the symposium, O’Brien says she believes CMTN is leading the way when it comes to implementing strategies and techniques to address the absence of Indigenous ways of knowledge in curriculums across Canada.

“Any institution will tell you, there’s no textbook in how to indigenize your institution, there’s no template,” she says.

“Indigenization is the effort and the process made by every individual at CMTN. It’s not the responsibility of a department or a few people — it’s up to all of us.”


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Indigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rotary Club of Prince Rupert members Kelly Sawchuck and Adrienne Johnston prepare Christmas trees on Dec. 4 in Prince Rupert for the annual sale. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
300 Christmas trees arrive in Prince Rupert

Rotary Club Christmas tree sales are now on, with a high demand for trees during COVID-19

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where one employee is still currently isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was first declared on Nov. 19. (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
54 positive COVID-19 cases associated with LNG Canada site outbreak

There’s been a two-person increase in positive cases since Tuesday (Dec. 1)

K-J Millar/The Northern View
8 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Northern Health Authority

Since Nov. 27, there have been 191 new cases reported in NHA

Five to six years of log accumulation at Diana Lake Provincial Park is currently being cleaned up by a District of Port Edward and Parks BC partnership. (Photo: Supplied by District of Port Edward)
Diana Lake Provincial Park clean up underway

Port Edward District spearheaded the park clean up securing $80,000 in funds from Ridley Terminal

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

Pickleball game in Vancouver on Sunday, November 8, 2020. B.C.’s public health restrictions for COVID-19 have been extended to adult team sports, indoors and outside. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
711 more COVID-19 cases detected in B.C. Friday

‘Virus is not letting up and neither can we’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Victoria-based driving instructors are concerned for their own and the community’s safety with the continued number of residents from COVID hotspots in the Lower Mainland coming to the city to take their driving road tests. (Black Press Media file photo)
Students from COVID hotspots travel to Vancouver Island for driving tests

Union leader calls on government to institute stronger travel ban

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix wears a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19, during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, August 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
PHSA bought faulty respirators; spent money on catering, renovations: Dix

Such spending included ‘unnecessary, unbudgeted renovations’ to the authority’s headquarters in Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan releases his election platform, Vancouver, Oct. 6, 2020, featuring COVID-19 relief payments promised for most households. (B.C. NDP photo)
Next $1.5 billion in B.C. COVID-19 cash ‘prudent,’ Horgan says

New round of payments for household incomes up to $175,000

Most Read