Jennifer Rice MLA for the North Coast and emergency secretary for emergency preparedness is an alumnus of the Applied Coastal Ecology program at North Coast Community College which just dedicated its first floating classroom to the Prince Rupert Campus, on Aug. 22. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Jennifer Rice MLA for the North Coast and emergency secretary for emergency preparedness is an alumnus of the Applied Coastal Ecology program at North Coast Community College which just dedicated its first floating classroom to the Prince Rupert Campus, on Aug. 22. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Floating $250,000 classroom for Coast Mountain College dedicated in Prince Rupert

Vessel Na Malsga Aks will provide greater education for North coastal ecology students

Na Malsga Aks, “the story the water tells”, sailed her maiden voyage around the Prince Rupert harbour, as the first floating classroom for Coast Mountain College (CMTC) after the vessel’s official re-naming ceremony on Aug. 22.

A waterfront crowd of more than 25 people attended the vessel dedication ceremony when the new La̱xyuubm Ts’msyen language moniker was bestowed in a traditional First Nation naming ceremony, using cedar branches and having the name declared three times by Elder Murray Smith, and Elder and Language Holder Velma Nelson.

Starting in September students in the college Applied Coastal Ecology (ACE) programme will gain hands-on experience with the new aluminum-hulled 27-foot (7.6 metre) mobile marine classroom that has been in the planning since 2019, Laurie Waye president of CMTC said. The boat will be used for other innovative programs such as environmental sciences and field schools and will assist in enhancing partnerships in the community.

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness was representing the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training Anne Kang at the dedication and said the provincial government invested more than $250,000 into the 12-passenger vessel.

Rice said it was the coastal ecology programme more than 20 years ago that offered her adventure and trek to a new life in Prince Rupert. The new equipment will continue to teach the future stewards of the North Coast region, she said.

“So, as an alumnus, it’s fantastic to see how the program has evolved over time to keep up with the latest technology used in the natural resource sector. The mobile marine classroom is an important tool for carrying out the necessary work in protecting and monitoring this important coastal environment,” the MLA said.

The floating classroom allows students to practice coastal natural resources management, ecosystem restoration and environmental monitoring with the tools and technology they will be using once they enter the workforce, Rice said.

Their education will be enhanced with state-of-the-art and modern fixtures on the vessel such as a crane and winch for lowering and towing equipment; a side-scan sonar; a single-beam echo sounder; a laptop for remotely operated vehicle control; a lifeline, first-aid kit, safety vests, inflatable boat, line puller and handheld radio; underwater cameras; an underwater wi-fi extension line; air drones; and plankton troll nets.

Nicole Haulbauer, chair of CMTC addressed the ceremonial crowd stating responsible stewardship of the land and water are ecological challenges that matter very deeply to the college.

“Sharing the stories of science is essential to our future,” she said, adding with the funding for the classroom more North Coast graduates will be equipped to go on to complete important work for the region.

The new equipment will ensure students of the ACE programme are properly prepared for the workforce and equipped to help protect the air, land and water in working to support communities through the climate change disaster, Rice said.

“In the next decade, approximately a third of all jobs will be transformed by technology and economic shifts. We’re helping students acquire new skills to meet evolving occupational requirements while working towards a better future with new clean energy jobs and opportunities and protecting our greatest asset to the environment.”

“Here on the North Coast, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by the complex ecosystems that make our region so unique and that have been stewarded for generations by coastal First Nations,” Rice said. “The mobile marine classroom is a significant tool for carrying out the necessary work in protecting and monitoring this important coastal environment and training the future stewards of our Northwest region.”


 
K-J Millar | Editor and Multimedia Journalist 
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Jennifer Rice MLA for the North Coast and secretary for emergency preparedness, and Heather Bastin, Executive Director of External Relations of Coast Mountain College attend the waterfront dedication ceremony on Aug. 22 of Na Malsga Aks, a new vessel and classroom for Coast Mountain College. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)

Jennifer Rice MLA for the North Coast and secretary for emergency preparedness, and Heather Bastin, Executive Director of External Relations of Coast Mountain College attend the waterfront dedication ceremony on Aug. 22 of Na Malsga Aks, a new vessel and classroom for Coast Mountain College. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)