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NWCC seeks support for longhouse project

Northwest Community College (NWCC) has set September 2009 as its target date for completing the first longhouse ever to be built on college grounds, and the first longhouse within the Terrace city limits. This project is so much more than a building. The longhouse will be an acknowledgement of the First People who live in this region, their culture and their traditions. Built in the traditional style of the Tsimshian people, it will be a special place for people to gather, to learn, to celebratea place for the College and the greater community, said NWCC president Stephanie Forsyth. Given the buildings purpose, the Elders of Kitsumkalum, on whose traditional territory the longhouse will reside, have approved the name Waap Galtsap, which means Community House. The longhouse 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, the longhouse 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. To complete the project, NWCC needs to raise an additional $950,000. To date, NWCC has received $600,000 in seed monies from the Ministry of Advanced Education and the College has provided donation incentive funding, along with capital funds and in-kind donations from college programs. As a Community House, we want to involve college departments and members of the greater community in building the longhouse, explains Forsyth. This is a unique opportunity for community members and businesses to help establish a legacy that embraces the importance of First Nations to this region and to the College. We invite community members, organizations and the City of Terrace to join us in this project and have created opportunities for their involvement. College departments have set the example for how businesses and organizations can be involved. NWCC Trades programs are donating labour and expertise, and are using the project for further training and practical knowledge. Two carpentry classes built the foundation for the longhouse last fall; now, College log construction instructors Robert Savignac and Higgs Murphy are finishing the structures log work and 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. Donations of $5,000 or more will be matched by NWCC from its matching funds incentive program. The Hereditary Chiefs, Martriarchs and Elders of the Kitsumkalum, Laxibuu people, on whose traditional territory the Terrace campus resides, chose the location for the longhouse and have approved the building and artwork designs. Contact Northwest Community College for more on sponsorship opportunities.

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