As a current staff member at CNC’s Lakes District campus, I would like to express my opinion that many of us employed at the local campus would embrace the opportunity to restore the programs that were once offered at our local campus.
Over many years, CNC employees – working on the frontline and learning how to use different paradigms, strategies, and tactics in their work with marginalized individuals – developed incredible expertise in how to support these individuals and the companies that might hire them.
The staff included many professionals. Doctors, social workers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech language pathologists and educators worked alongside each other and the synergy resulted in the development of the many leading edge programs previously mentioned.
These programs and the expertise that were developed here in Burns Lake were recognized internationally.
The current senior administration team in Prince George considered these programs to be incompatible with a college mandate. Furthermore, there was a motto of “one college” which presumably meant “one size fits all.”
The paradigm of educational needs was a Prince George centric one, which, obviously, includes an awareness of competition with the university. Our local team of administrators at the time was unsuccessful in convincing the Prince George team that this was not a realistic or workable framework for success in Burns Lake. Consequently, programs were cut from the local curriculum, reconfigured, and redistributed to other agencies.
Unfortunately, in most instances there were significant changes and reductions in services and funding in the process.
Administrators with the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) have indicated a desire and willingness to engage with local educators in a dialogue aimed at developing and implementing programs designed to best meet the needs of our local community members. Additionally, they have indicated that NVIT has a provincial mandate which allows for recruitment of students from beyond the local CNC catchment area.
Combining a willingness to engage with local educators, an extended recruitment area, and a salary scale commensurate with CNC’s collective agreements, it seems like a change to NVIT is a reasonable alternative to explore.
The former mayor of Burns Lake was a strong advocate for the programs that have been cut from the current CNC programming mandate. He recognized the value these programs provided to our community members.
We hope the current mayor and council will follow that lead and continue to advocate for a college with programs that will work to meet the needs of our most marginalized members. The B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education has a responsibility to ensure that communities are getting the best possible post-secondary education.
This is a critical time to communicate our desire to once again have local control so that we can develop programming that is consistent with the needs of our current and potential students and ensure that people in the Lakes District have access to quality, comprehensive educational opportunities close to home.