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NWCCs Challenging the Paradigm 2009 Gathering a success

TERRACE Building on the original Challenging the Paradigm conference in late 2007, Northwest Community College (NWCC) wrapped up five days of invaluable, cultural and academic workshops, dialogue and discussion that drew praise from invited guests, speakers and participants. Over 130 people took part in this years Gathering that kicked off in grand fashion Sunday, June 21 with an opening address from His Honour, Lt. Governor Steven Point. His Honour spoke about the need for culturally sensitive education practices, the need to challenge commonly accepted views of education and the importance of the efforts of Northwest Community College in transforming post-secondary education. I cant say enough about how privileged we feel to have had His Honour here, on National Aboriginal Day, to open this event, said NWCC President Stephanie Forsyth. To have someone so well known and respected as the lieutenant-governor speak so candidly and eloquently about his experiences in education and support the work we are doing was a major coup for the College, the community and the Challenging the Paradigm Gathering. From June 22-25 the conference shifted venues to NWCCs Terrace Campus, each day opening with a keynote speaker, followed by workshops, an art exhibition, and traditional craft workshops. Professors Leroy Little Bear, Amethyst First Rider, Denise Henning and Lorna Williams were keynote speakers, while a total of 35 individuals a mix of invited guest presenters, NWCC faculty and artists hosted a variety of workshops. The cultural workshops, led by local artists and NWCC Freda Diesing graduates, offered hands-on training in a number of areas including moccasin-making, designing, painting and drawing, cedar basket weaving, beading, red cedar weaving and most popular drum making. The cultural workshops were a great addition to the conference lineup this year, said Jim McDonald, Executive Director of NWCCs House of Learning and Applied Research. They offered a complementary option to those attending the conference and others in the community who just wanted to learn a specific skill they wouldn't otherwise be able to learn. As Challenging the Paradigm 2009 came to its end Thursday, people gathered in a sharing circle where each person gave feedback about their experience and thoughts about how to move forward in their institutions. Over fifteen different colleges and universities were represented at this Gathering, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. While much praise was heaped on what the College calls its transformative journey and the Gathering itself, Forsyth says there is still much to be learned. We know were on the right track but we havent reached the end of this journey, said Forsyth.

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