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Northwest Community College Conference Addresses Decolonization

On October 11, 2007 Northwest Community College (NWCC), in partnership with the Gitksan Wetsuweten Education Society, Kitimat Valley Institute Corporation, and the Wilp Wilxooskwhl Nisgaa Institute, will be offering a landmark conference that deals directly and honestly with the issue of colonization of Aboriginal peoples and the role the post-secondary education system should play in addressing it. NWCC serves a region of BC that has the highest percentage of Aboriginal people than any other area of the province, states NWCC President, Stephanie Forsyth. Over 44% of our student population is of Aboriginal descent and we see first hand the affects colonization has had on them both individually and within their communities. As a public post-secondary educational institution with a mandate to serve the communities and people in our service area it is incumbent on us to find ways to redress the ongoing effects of colonization through our educational system. The Colleges Challenging the Paradigm: Decolonizing Post-Secondary Education conference promises to take a hard look at the role of post-secondary education in the history of Aboriginal people and will challenge participants to new find ways of teaching and learning that support all members of the population. "The workshops will put a focus on education programs that are integrating Aboriginal cultural values and working in meaningful ways with Aboriginal communities to change the traditional approaches to post secondary education," states Jim McDonald, Executive Director of NWCC's House of Learning,. "Themes will include integrating Aboriginal paradigms in education, enhancing aboriginal access, redressing colonization in education, and best practices in designing cultural relevant curriculum." Two keynote speakers are Dr. Leroy Littlebear, professor in the Native American Studies Program at the University of Lethbridge and Dr. E. Richard Atleo, Research Liaison a the University of Manitoba and Associate Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria. Both bring many years of experience studying and teaching ways of integrating aboriginal perspectives into post secondary institutions. "This conference is a very important meeting to discuss the challenges and successes that post secondary institutions face in being more receptive to aboriginal cultural values and needs. We are very excited by the high caliber of the featured speakers and the workshops that will be presented," concludes McDonald. The conference is open to teachers, faculty, and Aboriginal Support Workers and runs from October 11 to 12, with a First Northern Collaborative Learning Forum on the 13th. Challenging the Paradigm provides an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the issues surrounding Aboriginal education, to learn about best practices being discovered in various projects and programs, and to provide attendees an opportunity to discuss issues arising from the conference proceedings, concludes Forsyth. Complete conference and registration information can be found on the College web site at www.nwcc.bc.ca

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