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OPINION: UNBC, CNC working together to make a difference during restart period

College of New Caledonia president Dr. Dennis Johnson

BY DENNIS JOHNSON 

President and CEO,  College of New Calecdonia

AND GEOFF PAYNE

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Northern B.C.

One of the many remarkable legacies of the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic is the way people in communities big and small are coming together to respond and help where needed. The examples of people working together as never before are numerous and our communities will benefit as we move forward to define the BC Restart period. Without question, collaboration and cooperation by people, communities and institutions have helped slow the spread of the virus to a point where we can begin to move forward.

We realized early on at the College of New Caledonia and the University of Northern British Columbia that by working together, we could make a positive difference in the lives of our students and in the communities we serve. Our institutions moved quickly to continue provision of courses and programs online through alternative delivery instead of meeting daily in our classrooms. We shared information about the technical and administrative adjustments required to make this happen in only a few days.

UNBC interim president Geoff Payne

We communicated regularly about a host of other important matters in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with a view to keeping our students, staff and communities safe. Our faculty, operational staff and administration’s diligence and hard work helped us achieve this objective. We believe that ongoing collaboration and cooperation between our post-secondary institutions can serve to create a positive difference in the post-virus future.

CNC and UNBC are in the business of providing exceptional educational experiences for our students. Our programs may differ, but we have more in common than we do differences. While we don’t have all the answers as to what the BC Restart period may look like, here’s what we can say today. We’ll be speaking with Indigenous, community, and business leaders in the weeks to come about their expectations for the post-virus era. We’ll monitor closely the economic impacts of COVID-19 on Prince George and northern B.C., and the recovery strategies that businesses will implement to move forward. We will work with our communities to address the emerging priorities of the BC Restart period.

It’s clear already that we need to train more nurses and other health-care professionals. It’s clear there are gaps in the global supply-chain. We’ll need to consider how our post-secondary institutions can help fill those gaps. While we may have more questions than answers, our commitment to our collective communities is that we will engage in important dialogue about how our institutions are and will continue to contribute to the BC Restart period.

The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that our respective institutions are stronger when we’re working together. We’ll take this approach forward as we continue to work with Indigenous communities, the City of Prince George, Northern Health, and other partners such as industry, business, and community organizations. We’ll share our innovative collaborative experiences with others to create a stronger northern B.C. We continue to witness the resiliency of our students, faculty, staff and communities as we navigate the uncharted water of the COVID-19 pandemic. We acknowledge that resiliency and will keep working together to make a positive difference in the BC Restart period.

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