Westbank First Nations Chief Christopher Derickson (left) and Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton sign a new Memorandum of Understanding between the two groups, continuing a long tradition of helping one another. (Photo submitted)

Westbank First Nations Chief Christopher Derickson (left) and Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton sign a new Memorandum of Understanding between the two groups, continuing a long tradition of helping one another. (Photo submitted)

Westbank First Nation, Okanagan College ink new understanding

Longstanding tradition between two organizations continues

Okanagan College and Westbank First Nation (WFN) continue its tradition of working together.

The two groups recently signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), building on a long history of working together to increase access and support for WFN members in achieving their post-secondary education goals.

The new MOU outlines seven ways in which the partners will continue to collaborate on projects and programs that will benefit learners from the WFN community, while helping both organizations learn from one another and build professional capacity.

Signing on behalf of Westbank First Nation was Chief Christopher Derickson and Councillors Andrea Alexander, Jordan Coble, Lorrie Hogaboam and Fernanda Alexander. Representing Okanagan College was President Jim Hamilton, Interim Vice President Students Allan Coyle and Director of Student Services James Coble.

The agreement notes how the college and WFN will work together to embrace the spirit and intent of reconciliation in developing culturally appropriate, meaningful, and quality education and training that meets the needs of Indigenous learners and responds to key skills gaps in the region.

“Our members have been accessing post-secondary education and training opportunities at Okanagan College for decades and in growing numbers, and so we value being able to provide input and guidance into how the college can continue to make good on its commitment to providing welcoming, inclusive and supportive spaces for Indigenous students to thrive,” said Derickson. “I’m encouraged by the way we continue to add more and more examples of collaborative programs and projects that are benefitting students with each passing year.”

The announcement of the new agreement comes on National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.

It also comes during what would have been Convocation season at Okanagan College, with hundreds of graduates usually crossing the stage to collect credentials in June.

After surveying students on their preferences, the college postponed Convocation until COVID-19 conditions will allow for in-person ceremonies.

“Given all that’s going on in the world and in our community, it’s very timely for us to be thinking about how we can support learners,” said Derickson. “Congratulations to all the new graduates at Okanagan College who will be stepping out into our communities and sharing their knowledge and skills at a critical time.”

The MOU also describes how Okanagan College will continue to turn to WFN for guidance on how First Nations ways of knowing, doing and being can be incorporated to enrich the educational, organizational and cultural fabric of the College.

“This agreement is the continuation of a very positive and deeply valued relationship between Okanagan College and Westbank First Nation,” said Hamilton. “It’s a collaboration that has benefited many students – Indigenous and non-Indigenous – over the years. The partnership has provided us with valuable insights into how we can continue to support WFN learners, how we can learn from Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, and how we can build on this mutually beneficial relationship.”

Okanagan College has one of the highest and fastest-growing rates of Indigenous student participation of any institution in the sector. In 2018-19 the college delivered educational programming to 1,825 Indigenous students.

Working with and Learning from the Indigenous Community is one of the College’s key directions outlined in its Strategic Plan 2016-2020. As a result of that plan, the college created an Indigenization Task Force in 2016 and has since collaborated with Indigenous communities, student learners (past, present and future) and Elders from across the region to inform and guide that effort.

In 2016, the college and WFN signed a formal MOU to work together on collaborative projects, programs, cultural events and ways in which to support learners.

“The agreement signed this spring renews and expands on that commitment,” said Hamilton.

The flag of the Okanagan Nation Alliance (ONA) was raised at Okanagan College’s Kelowna and Vernon campuses in 2019 to acknowledge that those campuses reside on unceded territories of the Syilx Okanagan people. A Secwepemcúlecw flag was raised at the Salmon Arm campus, located on the unceded territories of the Secwepemc.

READ MORE: Derickson heads Okanagan College board

READ MORE: Garden celebrates aboriginal culture



roger@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CollegeFirst Nations

Just Posted

Kelowna flags were flown at half-mast after the discovery of a residential school burial site in Kamloops. (File photo)
Central Okanagan school board chair reflects on recent tragedies

Moyra Baxter offers condolenses to residential school victims, slain Muslim family

A young child has been taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Investigation ongoing after child struck by vehicle downtown Vernon

A young child was taken to hospital Friday with undetermined injuries

Trevor Tessmer, 41, of Saskatchewan is wanted by Vernon police. (RCMP)
Saskatchewan man wanted by Vernon police

Anyone with tips to contact Vernon detachment

Lightning in Kelowna, B.C. (Contributed)
Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan

Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms overnight

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province's fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Longtime SOWINS volunteer Diane Fru (far left) walks with members of her family as they Walk To End Abuse Sunday, June 13, 2021. South Okanagan Women In Needs Society (SOWINS) raised a record amount this year. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Walk to End Abuse in South Okanagan breaks fundraising record

More than $53,000 raised so far while the pandemic has increased need for SOWINS’ services

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Most Read