Significant progress on reconciliation continues on campus and beyond, thanks to a continued partnership between George Brown College (GBC) and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation (MCFN). As part of this partnership, 10 students completed an education and career exploration program delivered by GBC in the MCFN community.
Students identified education and career pathways through group discussions, reflections and exercises during the weeklong program called Nibwaakaawin (Wisdom) that ran September 18 - 22. The program prompted students to ask questions about themselves, including “What’s important to me?” and “What makes me happy?” to set meaningful goals for the future. Five days of in-person and online classes will be followed by a week of one-on-one career coaching.
On September 22, students, instructors and GBC staff celebrated the Nibwaakaawin graduation ceremony, held in the community at the Six Nations Community Hall.
The Wisdom program is a modified version of CHOICES, a tuition-free GBC program funded by Employment Ontario, offered to anyone 19 years and older. Sherry Lickers, a professor from the School of Work and College Preparation, taught the program and adapted CHOICES for Indigenous learners, adding cultural teachings and other elements.
“We had two students who are fluent Mohawk speakers, and our first day began with one of those students delivering an opening address of thanks in his language,” she said. “On our final day, Elder Valerie King joined us to share her education and career journey with students.”
Lickers said she would adjust the program based on student feedback, and much of it, she said, has been positive.
Patricia Campbell-Hatton and Gus Tzatzanis developed the CHOICES program. Tzatzanis said having it modified and delivered directly to an Indigenous community is “a dream come true.”
Advancing the goals of our MOU and Indigenous Education Strategy
GBC signed a memorandum of understanding with MCFN in June 2022. Expanding educational pathways for Indigenous learners, including programming delivered in the MCFN community, was among the commitments outlined in the agreement. It’s also an important element of GBC’s Indigenous Education Strategy.
The MOU addresses several calls outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and priorities outlined in the CICAN Indigenous Education Protocol to elevate the presence of Indigenous treaty partners.
Since signing the agreement, GBC has achieved eight of the 10 MOU commitments. These include animating campus spaces to reflect Indigenous heritage, cultural best practices, and the territories on which we work and live.