NNSL Photo/Graphic

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page
Aurora College commits to indigenous education
Signing of new protocol dubbed an 'historic' moment

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Aurora College has signed onto a national document committing to promote education for indigenous people.

NNSL photo/graphic

Paul Andrew, the elder representative on Aurora College's board of governors, signs the Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes on June 9 in Fort Smith. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

Sydney O'Sullivan, chair of Aurora College's board of governors, called it an "historic" event at the signing ceremony on June 9 in Fort Smith.

The Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes has been in the work for the past two years. It's the brainchild of a national organization called Colleges and Institutes Canada.

The aspirational document reaffirms Aurora College's commitment to indigenous education and provides a vision of how it will strive to better serve indigenous people.

"The treaties signed by First Nations leaders promised an equitable system of education to provide the skills to participate fully in the economy, as well as continuity for indigenous knowledge, languages, cultures and traditions," said O'Sullivan. "Unfortunately, this has not been the reality for many of Canada's indigenous peoples. And it is our hope that this protocol will turn that tide across Canada on this issue. So we're very excited to be a part of it."

The document was signed on behalf of the college's board of governors by Paul Andrew, the elder representative on the board.

Andrew brought the protocol forward to the board and received approval for the signing.

It lays out seven principles which recognize and affirm the college's responsibility and obligation to indigenous education, from committing to hiring more indigenous employees to implementing indigenous tradition and culture into the curriculum.

"I thought it was very appropriate that we sign this in front of you," college president Jane Arychuk told the students, adding the protocol is a commitment to the youth of the NWT. "We do very well with involving traditional knowledge and land-based education at the college, but we can always do better."

Arychuk believes the college already meets or is making headway towards meeting the seven principles.

By signing the protocol, Aurora College is supporting the many other Canadian colleges and institutes which are taking steps to better serve indigenous peoples.

"This protocol will encourage our members to be even more inclusive of indigenous cultures and even more proactive in eliminating the barriers to education that many indigenous learners still face," stated Denise Amyot, president and CEO of Colleges and Institutes Canada, in a news release.

Large copies of the protocol will be displayed at the three campuses of Aurora College - in Fort Smith, Yellowknife and Inuvik - while smaller versions will be displayed at the college's 23 community learning centres throughout the NWT.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.