By Kate Adams
Canadore College President Barbara Taylor and Union of Ontario Indians Grand Council Chief John Beaucage renew their unique educational partnership Tuesday.
Canadore College and the Union of Ontario Indians/Anishinabek Educational Institute (AEI) renewed their unique educational partnership at the Anishinabek Nation Head Office on Tuesday.
The agreement originally signed in January 2003, is partnership designed to deliver programs in a culturally relevant manner while promoting opportunities and excellence for Anishinabek learners.
Canadore College President Barbara Taylor says the partnership with Union of Ontario Indians through AEI ensures that the strengths of both partners are built upon.
“I think it’s very clear that it allows Canadore College to meet its commitment to serving Aboriginal people in First Nations.” states Taylor.
“AEI brings the culturally relevant knowledge and perspective,” she explains.
“Then Canadore brings our program depth and allows people in First Nations, member nations of the Union of Ontario Indians to have access to post secondary education and training in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be available. So we see this as an incredibly valuable partnership and incredibly important partnership in meeting our mandate as a community college.”
Grand Council Chief John Beaucage says that through the partnership 36 students have successfully completed the Social Service Worker, and Personal Support Worker programs and that the AEI has programs running throughout their territories including the Thunder Bay and London areas.
“We have accredited teachers that are working with students in their own home communities or close to their home communities and then when they graduate we provide along with Canadore College the certification that they finished these programs and that they’re college certified. So they get a college diploma out of it,” says Beaucage.
“It’s very well liked by the communities, by the students and we’re offering a good alternative in terms of educational programs for them, so it’s a win – win situation for everybody. The college, ourselves at the Union/ Anishinabek Education Institute, and more importantly the students out there in those communities.”
The deal will see the college continue to work with AIE to deliver the Personal Support Worker, Maintenance Management, Social Service Worker programs designed for First Nations students as well as the introduction of a new Office Administration program.
Beaucage and Taylor both agree that education cannot be approached in a cookie cutter manner, however, the success of the partnership has caught the attention of others.
“Yes there are some other first nations across the country that are looking at that,” states Beaucage.
“We’ve also had some inquiries from South America on how to develop educational institutes for the indigenous people of South America. I believe that we are providing some good processes here and we are models for other communities, and we’ll continue to lead the way with partners like Canadore College. I think we’re doing a great job in this partnership arrangement, and certainly it’s very positive thing for all of our community members.”
The Grand Chief also opened the door to expanding the partnership by introducing the idea of a residence for First Nations students at Canadore.
Beaucage says student housing is a big priority for him and that the issue mimics what’s happening in his communities as whole.
“We don’t have enough housing for our families and our communities. And then when our students leave the communities to work at an education program they come and to urban centres they find out that there’s not enough housing for them in the urban centres.”
“We need to put this as a priority and work with Canadore College and look at something for the future.”
“We’re not going to be breaking ground tomorrow, but what we can do is start the planning process, start the process to get funding and look at how we are going to solve this particular problem. Because the last thing a student should worry about is where they are going to live, what they should be concerned about is getting good grades and working hard at the educational process.” He states.
Beaucage says he would be looking for a residence style facility suitable for students with children, married students and single students primarily a native student residence within the Canadore College framework. He also wants the students involved in the process versus a top down approach.
Taylor chuckled when the Beaucage introduced the notion telling him that she and her staff had been discussing that very topic at their morning meeting.
“We know that one of the major issues for those students is adequate housing and not only housing for single people, but housing for families who are having to come from their communities to North Bay to access the education and training here,” states Taylor.
Taylor also agreed that no ground will be broken in the next couple of days and that talk around such a project has been casual at best, she does see a residence partnership project as a logical next step.
“Certainly there is a commitment on the part of the college to work with our partners here at the Union of Ontario Indians,” she says.
“Because I think this would be, as Grand Chief Beaucage has said, a win – win for those students and communities and a win – win for the two organisations in filling their mandate.”