Naia Patterson (left) and her mother Kanako Shaw lived apart for 16 years before reuniting as students at North Island College. Photo supplied

Education reunites mother and daughter at Comox Valley North Island College campus

A mother and daughter have reunited after 16 years thanks to programs at North Island College’s Comox Valley campus.

Kanako Shaw and her 19-year-old daughter Naia Patterson lived separately, sometimes continents apart, for more than a decade and a half. That changed this fall, with both mother and daughter enrolling in programs at North Island College (NIC).

Shaw is taking the NIC’s Business Administration post-degree diploma – Pre-Professional Accountant, while Patterson is taking the Adventure Guiding Option, Tourism and Hospitality Management diploma.

The mother, daughter and Patterson’s younger sister now live under one roof for the first time since Patterson was three.

“It’s really great, I love her, and I see parts of myself that I have realized I inherited from her,” said Patterson.

Divorce between Shaw and her then husband separated the mother and daughter. Shaw’s ex-husband moved to the U.S. with Patterson while Shaw stayed in Japan with her newborn daughter. Despite being more than 10,000 kilometres apart, Shaw and Patterson stayed in touch and regularly shared vacations.

Shaw remarried and settled down in France with her new husband. The couple decided to relocate to the Comox Valley. Shaw began looking into restarting her business career and started looking at the programs offered at NIC. Shaw previously worked in accounting so the NIC accounting program is ideal for updating her skills and knowledge.

When she read about the Adventure Guiding program, she realized it was perfect for her daughter.

“I knew right away it was what she wanted,” said Shaw. “I phoned her and said, ‘Why don’t you come here and go to college?’”

Patterson, still living in the U.S. with her father, had just completed her first year of college. She enrolled in general courses because she was unable to find an outdoor guiding program that was right for her. Her mother’s phone call got her excited. The NIC program was well rounded and offered a spectacular environment to learn in.

“The program was exactly what I was looking for – learning about leadership in the outdoors, along with mountaineering,” said Patterson. “I love how dynamic the program is. It broadens your horizons in a lot of different and useful skills for life.”

The pair are now settled into life being back together, as well as into their college routine.

Both are grateful NIC has given them the chance to reconnect.

“Having my daughter here helps me a lot,” said Shaw. “And it is really good for her too.”

To learn more about the NIC’s adventure guiding and business programs Adventure Guiding Program, visit www.nic.bc.ca.

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