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NWCC Longhouse project gets Elder blessing

Northwest Community College (NWCC) this week celebrated a crucial step in the development of its Longhouse project to be built at its Terrace Campus. About 75 witnesses braved chilly temperatures March 11 at a ceremonial blessing of the Longhouse delivered by Kitsumkalum Elder Mildred Roberts and Laxgibuu Clan Matriarch Vera Dudoward. The Longhouse site is on the hereditary estates of the Laxgibuu Clan. NWCC president Stephanie Forsyth, who also addressed the gathering, says the blessing was integral to the project moving forward for a planned September completion. The First Nations people who live in this region have been and will be at the heart of every component of the Longhouse project. Having Hereditary Chiefs, Matriarchs and Elders present and leading a blessing follows longstanding First Nations traditions, Forsyth said. It is always an honour to have full support from the people on whose traditional territory our institution is located. Also in attendance were NWCC Board of Governors Chair Irene Seguin, project architect Dr. Nancy Mackin, project manager Dave Oleksewich, NWCC log construction instructors Robert Savignac and Higgs Murphy, Frieda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art instructors Dempsey Bob, Stan Bevan and Ken McNeil and their students. The longhouse, which will be named Waap Galtsap, Tsimshian for Community House, is a collaborative project initiated by the College in consultation with NWCCs First Nations Council and Hereditary Chiefs, Elders and Matriarchs of the local Tsimshian people. Once completed, it will offer a culturally relevant space for celebrations and community gatherings. It will also house a gathering space for students, an Elders room, space for the House of Learning and Applied Research, a small kitchen, a gallery for works from the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art and a resource centre for faculty and staff. NWCC also used the ceremony to unveil a Longhouse sponsorship program. It seeks sponsors for the estimated $950,000 the project will need for completion. The incentive-laden opportunities start at the $1,000 range and top out at the $50,000 platinum level. Donations of $5,000 or more will be matched by NWCC from its matching funds incentive program. College departments have set an example for how businesses and organizations can be involved. NWCC Trades programs are donating labour and expertise, while Freda Diesing School instructors, students and alumni will produce art work and house poles. Community groups and businesses are encouraged to donate funds, skilled trades people and materials. Contact NWCC for Longhouse sponsorship opportunity details.

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