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Lieutenant Governor opens Aboriginal Gathering Space at NLC’s Chetwynd Campus

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CHETWYND – The Honourable Steven L. Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, joined with approximately 50 guests to celebrate the opening of the Aboriginal Gathering Space at the Chetwynd Campus of Northern Lights College on Sept. 30.

His Honour was joined by Chief Harley Davis (Saulteau First Nation), Councillor Theresa Davis (Moberly Lake First Nation), and NLC’s Board Chair Edith Leer, President Laurie Rancourt and Aboriginal Education Coordinator Henriette Landry to cut the ribbon to officially open the Gathering Space.

In his keynote speech, the Lieutenant Governor reflected on the important role that education has played for Aboriginal peoples, as a family affair, with cultural, historical and pragmatic lessons taught by the Elders to the younger family members.

“Facilities like this increase the opportunity for young people from First Nation communities to feel at home in (post-secondary) institutions,” the Lieutenant Governor said. “It’s long overdue that we’re coming together in spaces like this.”

His Honour also spoke about the importance of tradition and spirituality for Aboriginal students, and how that will be able to occur at the Gathering Space due to a special ventilation system.

“I love the idea of being able to have smudging ceremonies in this facility without fire alarms going off,” he said. “It’s great to be able to carry on not just the teachings, but the traditional spiritual practices.”

The ceremony included recognition of significant contributions from two industry partners toward the completion of the Gathering Space. The ventilation system was purchased and installed through a $35,000 donation from Talisman Energy Inc. As well, Walter Energy donated $15,000 towards furniture for the Gathering Space, and appliances for the adjacent kitchen.

Landry, who has been one of the driving forces behind the Gathering Space, talked about the importance of this type of facility for students.

“With a special Gathering Space like this, I know that students will want to come and stay,” Landry said. “This Gathering Space is going to be very special for all Aboriginal people. But it’s not just for Aboriginal students, but for the whole community of Chetwynd.”

The Gathering Space is one of four created at NLC campuses from funding provided by the Province of British Columbia. The first Gathering Space opened in 2009 at the Fort Nelson Campus.

NLC’s Gathering Spaces feature artwork and cultural artifacts commissioned by local Aboriginal bands, as well as study spaces and lounge areas. The Chetwynd facility includes an adjacent office for the Aboriginal Education Coordinator and a kitchen.

The College’s geographic area includes eight distinct Aboriginal cultures: Tlingit, Tahltan, Slavey, Cree, Saulteau, Dunneza, Dene and Métis.

ribbon cutting

Councillor Theresa Davis (Moberly Lake First Nation), Henriette Landry (NLC Aboriginal Education Coordinator), Laurie Rancourt (NLC President), The Honourable Steven L. Point (Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia), Chief Harley Davis (Saulteau First Nation) and Edith Leer (Board Chair, NLC) during the ribbon cutting.

Henriette Hug

Henriette Landry receives a congratulatory hug from The Honourable Steven L. Point, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.