North Island College (NIC) is reimagining international education, with the launch of one of Canada’s first Indigenous-focused international education plans.
Journeying Together, a transformative approach to Indigenization and International Education at NIC, will profoundly impact the education and experiences of the hundreds of students around the world that NIC’s Office of Global Engagement supports annually.
It places Indigenous students, employees, and communities at its heart while serving as a guide for NIC to re-envision global engagement.
The plan was developed starting in spring 2022 and has included guidance from NIC Elders, Indigenous community members on the Indigenous Education Council at NIC, which is made up of representatives from 35 Nations of the Nuu-chah-nulth, Coast Salish and Kwakwaka’wakw traditions, and Indigenous leaders within NIC.
“Our goal, when we started, was to find a way for International Education at NIC to be truly Indigenous serving,” said Mark Herringer, executive director, global engagement. “We wanted to connect NIC’s international students and programming with local Indigenous communities and look at what we do through an Indigenous lens.”
The ground-breaking plan integrates international, intercultural, and global relationships into NIC’s teaching, learning, research, and core services. It builds on NIC’s existing study abroad opportunities; global classroom connections; partnerships with Indigenous-serving institutions; engagement with NIC Elders, faculty, students and communities; international student participation in local Indigenous events; and expanded introductory programming on local Indigenous culture and history.
NIC has already started interweaving internationalization and Indigenization. In 2021, Laura Johnson, a Métis faculty member, received federal funding to build a new partnership with Tecnológico de Costa Rica. As a result, Johnson visited Costa Rica to deliver an Indigenous student virtual exchange to students back in Canada and established the foundation for further Indigenous cultural/community relationships and exchanges.
In 2022, 13 students and 16 community members from Fort Rupert, Alert Bay and a variety of North Island communities as well as students from B.C.’s north traveled to Kapi’olani Community College in Hawaii for NIC’s first fully Indigenous Language Fluency Field School. The partnership expanded connections and gave students rich opportunities to share Indigenous languages, cultures and learning.
Journeying Together was informed by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, the Colleges and Institutes Canada Indigenous Education Protocol, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and UN Sustainable Development Goals. As well, NIC has global partnerships in countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia—many with their own histories of colonization that have processes of decolonization underway.
It also aligns with NIC’s strategic plan, BUILD2026, and an Indigenization plan, Working Together, created by the Indigenous Education Council and supported wholeheartedly by NIC.
Each plan calls on NIC to begin a long and mindful process of learning and change, as the college discovers new ways to fulfill its planning commitments.
“North Island College acknowledges and understands that unravelling the impacts of colonization will span generations and that we are wholeheartedly dedicated to our role and shared responsibility in the process of meaningful reconciliation,” said Kelly Shopland, executive director, Indigenous education.
To read the plan, visit nic.bc.ca/pdf/journeying-together.pdf