Bishop John Stephens, Executive Archdeacon, the Venerable Philippa Pride and I recently visited the Campus of the Native Education College (NEC) in Vancouver.
The main building, on 5th Avenue just off Main Street in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighbourhood was constructed in 1985 on a traditional Pacific Coast longhouse design. On a tour of the main building, we commented on the large wooden beams forming the rafters; Amanda Kai, Director of Operations, observed, “we could not find beams of that size again nor could we afford them if they could be found.” The architecture is not the only thing unique about this place of learning.
NEC’s motto is “Your Journey Home.” It is a place where students can be themselves and learn in a supportive environment that enables and prepares them for work in their chosen professions. The College has certificate and diploma programs transferrable to UBC, Capilano University, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, Simon Fraser and Emily Carr University of Art and Design. The Diocese of New Westminster supports the work of NEC with the income of the invested funds from the sale of church properties through a motion passed at the Synod of 2019.
NEC is working on a new chapter in its life by moving from a private non-profit college to British Columbia’s 26th provincially recognized public Educational Institution while maintaining its Indigenous perspectives and supports. This transition is an important step in recognizing authentic Indigenous education, and step forward in provincial reconciliation initiatives.
In the Chief Tsimilano building next door to the main building we met Darren Alfred, Wellness Warriors Coordinator, who showed us the Bentwood boxes he and students made as part of the work that assists in the maintenance of spiritual, physical and mental health. We look forward to developing our relationship with NEC and exploring ways in which we can work together.
Photos: Kerry Baisley