The College of New Caledonia (CNC) opened its first Indigenous student residence building on the Prince George campus this semester, which is situated on the territory of the Lheidli T’enneh First Nation.
According to the statement, Lheidli T’enneh Elder Josie Paul named the 12-bed residence Nahoonai-a (nahoon-eye-ah) which means “to find “ or “to rediscover,” which represents the college experience.
“We thank the provincial government for its investment to create safe housing for Indigenous students,” confirms Lheidli T’enneh First Nation chief Dolleen Logan.
“Our Nation is also honoured to have been part of the design and naming process for the new complex."
Construction on the student residence was completed last October but due to delays from the COVID-19 pandemic this is the first semester that students will be staying in the building.
The residence was built next to existing student housing and aims to provide a culturally safe and welcoming environment for Indigenous students.
There is a shared kitchen and living area, washrooms, laundry facilities, a designated cultural area for students to gather and a two-bedroom suite for an Elder who will act as a student mentor and adviser.
“We know that students from remote communities have unique challenges to adapting to post-secondary life and this home will create a foundation for them to explore their learning on many levels,” said Anne Kang, minister of advanced education.
CNC has campuses in Burns Lake, Fort St. James, Mackenzie, Prince George, Quesnel and Vanderhoof with Indigenous students representing approximately 25% of the student population.
"I believe that the creation of this home will be a significant benefit to our Indigenous students attending CNC,” affirms Damon Robinson, membership outreach co-ordinator for CNC Students’ Union.
This is just one of the projects the province has invested in with a goal of 8,000 new on-campus student beds to be built by 2028.
Currently, there are 5,706 student housing beds across BC that are open or being constructed to help students pursue their post-secondary education more easily.
Some other locations include Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan, Thompson Rivers University, BCIT in Vancouver, College of the Rockies in Cranbrook and Coast Mountain College in Terrace.