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Saanich Adult Education Centre to receive $400,000 boost for Indigenous learning

First Nations-led centre on West Saanich Road among 10 institutes given funding help
The Saanich Adult Education Centre operating out of the LAU, WELNEW Tribal School on West Saanich Road offers a variety of upgrading and post-secondary preparation programs for Indigenous learners age 15 and over. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

One-time funding for a post-secondary institution serving First Nations on the Saanich Peninsula promises to improve educational outcomes for members of Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum and Pauquachin First Nations.

Saanich Adult Education Centre is among 10 institutes led by First Nations receiving $400,000 to cover core-operating costs from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training. The initiative is in partnership with the Indigenous Adult and Higher Learning Association and First Nations Education Steering Committee.

Committee president Tyrone McNeil said the dedication of funding is positive step forward in meeting standards set by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

“We will continue to work closely with (the association) and the ministry to ensure that this funding, administered through a First Nations-led process, is made available on an ongoing basis,” he said.

An additional $675,000 is going toward nine additional First Nations-led institutes to develop and implement capacity-building projects.

While the Saanich Adult Education Centre offers programming for individuals aged 15 and older, its main focus is adult education, including upgrading and preparation for post-secondary studies. It also offers SENCOTEN language classes and its philosophy stresses honouring WSANEC culture and appropriately weaving it into learning experiences. The centre operates out of the LAU, WELNEW Tribal School near the Brentwood Bay neighbourhood.

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Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, said First Nations institutes play a key role in increasing access to post-secondary education, while safeguarding culturally relevant education, as part of the province’s commitment to reconciliation.

The financial component represents core funding for economic recovery to support First Nations learners, communities and institutes through the pandemic and ensure access to high-quality learning resources, the ministry said in a statement to Black Press.

It covers the costs of non-instructional staff, operations and maintenance, student and cultural supports and learner resources, including IT and library services. The funding also finances capacity building projects to help more Indigenous students to learn where they live.

“Creating culturally safe environments for Indigenous learners is an important part of reconciliation,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “First Nations-led institutes play a unique and critical role in B.C.’s post-secondary education system, leveraging language, culture and knowledge to empower First Nations communities.”

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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