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November 17, 2015

JIBC breaks ground on new Aboriginal Gathering Place

New Westminster Campus addition funded by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education will provide a welcoming facility for Aboriginal students completing their studies at JIBC

JIBC Aboriginal Gathering Place Blessing (October 2015)JIBC President and CEO Dr. Michel Tarko; Laureen Styles, JIBC Vice-President, Academic; Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt First Nation; Squamish Elder Audrey Rivers; Bridget Malcom, Aboriginal Student Advisor; Tina Dion, JIBC Governor; Métis Elder Phillip Gladue, and Peter Kingston, JIBC Vice-President, Finance and Administration were in attendance of an Aboriginal ground blessing ceremony for JIBC's new Aboriginal Gathering Place. 

Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) broke ground today on a new dedicated gathering place where students, staff and faculty can appreciate and honour Aboriginal traditions.

The 821-square-foot space has been designed to enhance support services for JIBC’s Aboriginal students and also serve as a venue where non-Aboriginal students, staff and faculty can deepen their knowledge and appreciation of Aboriginal history and culture.

With $600,000 in funding from the B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education, the Aboriginal Gathering Place at the New Westminster Campus is scheduled to open in March 2016.

“Gathering places provide a welcoming environment for Aboriginal students” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson. “Our investment in gathering places throughout the province, including the Justice Institute of British Columbia, allows Aboriginal students to celebrate their heritage in an environment that will support their post-secondary studies.”

Aboriginal Gathering Place Ground Blessing October 2015Tina Dion, member of JIBC's Board of Governors, and Dr. Michel Tarko, President and CEO of JIBC, participate in an Aboriginal ground blessing on the site of the Aboriginal Gathering Place at the New Westminster Campus scheduled to open in March 2016.


On October 19 at the site of the new Aboriginal Gathering Place, an Aboriginal ground blessing was conducted, led by JIBC Elder-in-Residence Audrey Rivers from the Squamish First Nation, JIBC Elder-in-Residence Phillip Gladue (Métis), JIBC Governor Tina Dion, and Dr. Michel Tarko, President and CEO of JIBC.

At the blessing, President Tarko, who is of Métis descent, noted the importance and value of having a dedicated space for Aboriginal students where they can feel supported, and can participate in their Aboriginal traditions on campus.

“While I was studying at UBC, it was comforting to have a place like the First Nations Longhouse on campus. I am very happy we will soon be able to provide a similar venue where First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, staff and faculty can gather and support one another, and share our traditions and customs with non-Aboriginal students,” he said. “I’m confident that this additional support for our Aboriginal students will help them excel in their courses and programs at JIBC.”

At the blessing, JIBC Governor Tina Dion emphasized the importance of having a space on campus where Aboriginal students can feel welcomed and at home.

“This gathering place will be key support for Aboriginal students who come to JIBC,” she said. “To have a space where they can meet Elders and fellow Aboriginal students will go a long way to helping them succeed in their studies, build rewarding careers in public and community safety, and ultimately support their community.”

Dr. Richard Vedan, Associate Professor Emeritus in UBC’s School of Social Work and a member of JIBC’s Aboriginal Education Advisory Council noted, “The Gathering Place will show to potential program applicants and recruits that there is a place for them at JIBC and it will serve as a visual representation of JIBC's commitment to serving Aboriginal students and their communities.”

Government has funded $15 million since 2008 toward the creation of 31 Aboriginal Gathering Places at public post-secondary institutions that reflect Aboriginal culture. Gathering places are designed to provide a welcoming environment for the growing number of Aboriginal students on campuses all over B.C.

About Justice Institute of British Columbia

Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) is Canada’s leading public safety educator with a mission to develop dynamic justice and public safety professionals through its exceptional applied education, training and research. JIBC offers internationally recognized education that leads to certificates, diplomas, bachelor’s degrees and graduate certificates; exceptional continuing education for work and career-related learning and development; and customized contract training to government agencies and private organizations worldwide. Our education provides professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to excel at every stage of their career contributing to safer communities and a more just society.

Tags: Aboriginal Gathering Place, Aboriginal student services

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Last updated March 1, 2016