A rejuvenated aboriginal studies program is coming to the College of New Caledonia (CNC) campus in Burns Lake and to the college’s other campuses this fall.
And it’ll also be the first time an Associate of Arts Degree program offering university transfer will be available here, says Chad Thompson, the college’s acting vice president of academics.
The college has offered aboriginal studies before but was unhappy with both the participation and graduation rate, he said.
“What we did was a complete overhaul for a new program to meet the needs of students so that they could have a lot of options,” Thompson added in crediting community contacts and the college’s own instructors who came forward with ideas and suggestions.
The newly-designed program, which is two years in length, offers aboriginal-focused courses but also math, English composition and history.
It’s this blend which offers students options who may wish to continue on to other post-secondary institutions in pursuit of four-year degrees or other certifications, Thompson notes.
“In one of the courses, physical anthropology, the instructor is making available tools and specimens at all of the campuses,” Thompson said by way of indicating the work being done by the college’s staff.
Key to the program being offered at all the college’s campuses is digital delivery so that students have a blend of in-person and distance teaching, he said.
“CNC has really invested in new technology for digital delivery instruction for both its instructors and students,” said Thompson.
The technology on hand, combined with vastly increased internet bandwidth, brings an enhanced and enriched connected atmosphere, he said.
Corinne George is CNC’s regional principal for the Lakes District and was one of those involved in redesigning the program. A historian by training, George will be teaching one of the program’s history courses.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” said George in describing the program as a way to learn more about the indigenous presence in the area and beyond and how graduation can lead to further education and career opportunities.
“This is a great opportunity to learn more about the intertwining of peoples and histories,” she said.
One of the program’s first year courses, for example, is an introduction to the world view of First Nations people while other courses examine the works of contemporary First Nations authors and authors of First Nations childrens literature.
The program can easily lead graduates to a career in teaching, a growing career track given the current high demand for teachers across the province.
“The indigenousization of school curricula is also underway and is a further opportunity arising from this program,” said George.
In addition to George, two other instructors already in Burns Lake will be teaching program courses.
And so far, there’s been a growing amount of interest by locals interested in enrolling.