Just weeks after rolling out its new Strategic Plan, Okanagan College took a significant step toward one of its key directions by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with its partners in the Westbank First Nation.
The MOU was signed on Monday, Feb. 1 during the WFN’s regular Council meeting.
Chief Robert Louie and Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton were signatories on behalf of their organizations, which have a long history of partnership in educational and training programs, as well as cultural events.
“Okanagan College and Westbank First Nation have been working together for decades,” said Hamilton. “Both of our organizations signed the Colleges and Institutes Canada national Indigenous Education Protocol earlier this fall and it seemed like the time was right to embrace the spirit of that document and commit more formally to developing opportunities for a deeper collaboration with this very important partner.”
The College has one of the fastest growing rates of Aboriginal student participation of any institution in the sector. In 2015 the College delivered educational programming to 1,500 Aboriginal students.
“This MOU builds upon the strong relationship we currently have with Okanagan College,” says Chief Robert Louie. “It will further enhance First Nation cultural influences and assist us in building future capacity as a self-governing Nation. We look forward to the opportunities it will bring both Westbank First Nation and Okanagan College.”
Included in the MOU is a commitment by both organizations to work together on projects and programs that will increase access to post-secondary education and build professional capacity. Okanagan College has also committed to support WFN students in their success in post-secondary.
Working With, and Learning From, the Indigenous Community is one of the five key directions for the College, as outlined in its new Strategic Plan. Okanagan College is committing to developing an indigenization plan for the institution, which will enhance ties with Indigenous partners, strengthen support services for learners, and increase opportunities for the College community to learn from Indigenous knowledge and culture.