NorQuest College making major steps in the fight to make education and training more accessible to native communities, and they have begun with the Enoch Cree Nation.
“Enoch Cree Nation is excited to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with NorQuest College to explore future educational opportunities,” said Chief Billy Morin. “Establishing a meaningful relationship with NorQuest College will provide our members with quality education, which will eventually lead to better outcomes for the Nation. Furthermore, this relationship is symbolic of the Treaty right to education.”
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed late last year and put in writing the intent to focus on education and healthcare innovation with the Enoch Cree Nation. Further to this, the MOU will help to develop training and learning opportunities through workshops, dual-credit high school programs and custom academic upgrading opportunities. With specific identified needs as a unique community within the Canadian landscape, these tailored programs will hopefully help bridge the divide we currently see between native communities, education and careers.
Another important feature will be the Enoch Cree Nation Cultural Department, which will help to preserve and foster the Cree language as well as cultural learning opportunities. The College has an existing goal to enhance its community presence and the MOU is a major, tangible step toward that goal. The MOU is establishing the framework needed to achieve the strategic goals of everyone involved.
“Chief Morin and his council have an ambitious vision to create a hub of healthcare innovation, educational opportunities, and economic development for both Indigenous communities and urban Indigenous peoples in the greater Edmonton region,” says Dr. Jodi Abbott, who is now the former president and CEO of NorQuest College. “NorQuest College is honoured to work with them as equal partners in realizing this vision.”
NorQuest College is proud to continue its commitment to ensuring the principles and objectives within its Indigenization Strategy, Wahkôhtowin, which aim to make education for Indigenous people accessible and culturally sensitive, are realized.
“There is already great cooperation between NorQuest College and Enoch Cree Nation. This MOU provides a solid foundation,” says April Stone, business development officer, Indigenous Partnerships, NorQuest College. “The partnership will certainly open more doors for Indigenous youth and the community. Education from NorQuest College is accessible, and in the future, we can help provide Indigenous people with paths to careers they had not considered possible.”
According to Statistics Canada, the 2016 Census showed that more than half of the entire aboriginal population of Canada resides in Western Canada, with 14 per cent living in Alberta. Further to this, more than half of aboriginals aged 25-64 had post-secondary qualifications, and more are more are moving into metropolitan areas.
With all of this information at hand, NorQuest College is striving to create the most relevant learning opportunities that address the needs of these communities in meaningful ways.