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Aurora College to offer new program

Dez Loreen
Northern News Services
Thursday, June 21, 2007

Inuvik - In an effort to train more addiction and wellness counsellors, Aurora College is introducing a new program for the fall semester.

Donna Spurrell, chair of academic programs at the Inuvik Campus, said the new Indigenous Wellness Academic Program is a two-year course.

"The program has been brokered through Canadore College," said Spurrell.

Spurrell said the focus of the course is to train aboriginal people in the region to work as counsellors.

"The program has a strong aboriginal focus," said Spurrell.

"The course also has university transferability."

Spurrell a student could go on to earn two diplomas and a degree.

"After five years, the student would have a diploma in Indigenous wellness and addictions prevention, a wellness diploma and a degree in bachelor of arts and social welfare," explained Spurrell.

"It has a strong ladder of potential for a student."

Spurrell said that members of the Canadore college staff came to Inuvik to help start the program and talk with staff.

Spurrell added that working with local elders is integral to the execution of the program.

"The elder will be sharing their approach to wellness as well," she said.

"We have identified a list of elders and will bring that through a selection process."

Mary Lou Rainville, Peter Beaucage and Mary Wabano came to Inuvik from North Bay to meet with the Aurora staff. Rainville said she is happy to see the program spreading to other regions in Canada.

"I'm here to help the program start up in this region," she said.

Rainville said the program came North after Aurora staff contacted her.

"Our understanding is that there has been considerable research based on an identified need here in Inuvik for such a program," said Rainville.

Rainville said that, like in Inuvik, people in her region identified a need for the program.

"We want to send our students back to their communities to help there," said Rainville.

The program has been running at Canadore College since 1986, when Beaucage started as instructor.

"I've been with the program for going on 19 years now," said Beaucage.

"I've enjoyed it. The program is indigenous-based and all the students come from various nations."

Beaucage said that he recognized a need in his region for aboriginal drug and alcohol counsellors.

"The chiefs met with college personnel and made a proposal that started the first course in 1986," said Beaucage.

"We had 14 graduates that year."

Beaucage said the program has been beneficial for his community and the surrounding region.

"It's been a great help to us and it's very culturally based. The students are encouraged to use their language as well."

Spurrell said registration for the fall semester will be announced this summer.