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New Indigenous housing unit set for CNC

CNC President Henry Reiser presents Honourable Melanie Mark with a traditional First Nations gift. CNC photo
CNC President Henry Reiser and Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark. File photo

Construction of a new Indigenous housing building at the College of New Caledonia is expected to begin early next year.

“We’re breaking down barriers to education and training for Indigenous students attending the College of New Caledonia in Prince George,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, in a news release. “Our investment in purpose-built, culturally relevant student housing will enable Indigenous learners to thrive and succeed in a supportive environment.”

The province is contributing $2.6 million to the new student housing facility. It will be 440 square metres, and will be located in the Lheidli T’enneh’s homeland at the Prince George campus. The building for first-year Indigenous students will be built next to existing student housing, to ensure students can easily participate in campus life.

“Indigenous student housing at the college is one of the ways we’re advancing reconciliation,” said Mark. “I’m proud to be part of a government that is committed to adopting and implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.”

Approximately 20 per cent of CNC’s student population is Indigenous, many from remote parts of northern British Columbia. CNC serves 21 First Nations communities.

The building will have up to 12 furnished student rooms, a suite for an Elder who will support students, a shared kitchen, living area, washrooms and laundry facilities, as well as a designated area for cultural practices, teachings and activities.

“Finding safe and affordable housing is often a challenge for Indigenous students who have moved to Prince George pursue education,” said Henry Reiser, CNC president. “The funding from the Province will allow us to remove one more barrier that exists for many Indigenous students.”

CNC will work with the Lheidli T’enneh, and other Indigenous peoples, to ensure the housing is a welcoming and safe space for Indigenous students to attend and stay.

“We support the efforts made by the Province of B.C., and will work closely with the college to ensure that the new Indigenous student housing is both culturally welcoming and allows a safe space for continued successes for all Indigenous learners,” said Lheidli T’enneh Chief Dominic Frederick. “This will be an opportunity to work closely with our Elders and community members in the near future.”

Construction of the LEED Gold certified building is expected to begin in early 2019, with occupancy expected by fall 2019.

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