Canada-BC partnership awards $700,000 to Royal Roads for community-based certificate program

May 24, 2018
Photo courtesy of Eric Bigrig

Royal Roads University and Kitselas First Nation are working together to meet educational and capacity building needs for the nation right at home, thanks to funding provided through the Aboriginal Community-Based Training Partnerships Program.

The program, a federal-provincial partnership funded through the Canada-British Columbia Workforce Development Agreement, awarded $700,000 to Royal Roads to deliver the Certificate in Cultural and Natural Resources Assessment program.

In their home communities, students in the program learn the skills they need to perform assessments of natural resources and culturally significant resources and sites that may be affected by developments within their traditional territories.

The idea for the program came from the leadership of the Kitselas First Nation, located just outside Terrace, says Tim Brigham, a learning and development advisor with Professional and Continuing Studies at Royal Roads.

“Kitselas Nation was looking for an opportunity to bring targeted and relevant programming into its community and to neighbouring nations as well,” says Brigham. “The vision is a multi-year plan to build capacity and abilities in their communities.

“The students are learning to perform a range of assessments connected to natural resources and sites of ongoing cultural importance,” he says. “These skills are especially needed given the large-scale developments expected in northwestern BC. The goal is to see these students positioned to take on the jobs that will be coming with development in the region.”

“The program is set up so that students will succeed,” says Debbie Moore, manager of community services and post-secondary education for the Kitselas First Nation. “My dream for each is that they achieve their employment goals or continue to work towards a degree.”

“The partnership between Kitselas First Nation and Royal Roads breaks down barriers to education for many learners by actually delivering skills training in the community,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training. “Investing in education programs for Indigenous learners helps make sure we all have a place in British Columbia’s thriving economy and growing workforce. Together, we’re advancing reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”

Fifteen students, ten from Kitselas Nation and five from other nations, are enrolled in the first offering of the program, which began in April and runs until November. The second offering of the program will be provided to 15 students from other nations in northwestern BC in 2019.

Kitselas and Royal Roads have worked together on educational programming before, and that respectful relationship made the program possible, says Zoe MacLeod, director for Professional and Continuing Studies.

“We’re grateful to have this opportunity to work in partnership and in community, learning with and from each other,” says MacLeod.