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November 18, 2013

BVC Unveils The Iniikokaan (Buffalo Lodge) Aboriginal Centre

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Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut [ah IN chut] Atleo [hat-lee-oh]; Bow Valley College President and CEO, Sharon Carry; and the Honourable Linda Johnson, MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, gathered today to celebrate the official grand opening of the Bow Valley College Iniikokaan [Ee knee go gan] (Buffalo Lodge) Aboriginal Centre.

“The Iniikokaan Aboriginal Centre is a space for gathering, learning, and cultural celebration focused on the goal of Aboriginal learner persistence and success,” said Sharon Carry, President and CEO. “It’s a centre open to all College learners, faculty and staff, so its focus also includes deepening a shared understanding of Aboriginal teachings and ways of life.”

The new centre celebrates Aboriginal culture and provides support for Aboriginal learners and welcomes all BVC learners looking to share in this deep rooted way of life.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo said: “Having a culturally relevant facility dedicated to First Nations and Métis learners is important and will do a great deal to ensure student success. It is critical to have a space where students can share ideas and experiences, utilize our languages, and share our cultures, histories, our teachings, and our spiritual ways. Education is indeed the new buffalo and offers the promise of reconciliation through understanding, knowledge and through respect.”

The Iniikokaan Aboriginal Centre is a dedicated space for Aboriginal learners to access cultural resources, reconnect with traditional teachings, and gather and celebrate with the broader community. The Centre speaks to the College’s purpose to engage diverse communities in lifelong learning to build better lives.

“I congratulate the members of Bow Valley College and the community who saw the wisdom in creating this special centre within the college,” said the Honourable Linda Johnson, MLA for Calgary-Glenmore, speaking on behalf of Deputy Premier Thomas A. Lukaszuk, Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education. “For the 400 Aboriginal students on campus, this centre will provide a strong sense of community and pride; and a place where students can support each other, practice their culture and share it with others.“

This centre incorporates many Aboriginal symbols and artifacts of significance to Aboriginal Peoples of Southern Alberta. The buffalo has special meaning for Aboriginal peoples in Canada and Alberta. Education is often referred to as the new buffalo, which is why the name Iniikokaan (Buffalo Lodge) holds significant meaning to Bow Valley College.

Aboriginal leaders on the Centre’s Advisory Council contributed to the design to meaningfully represent a lodge or tipi. This included the choice of wood used such as the lodge pole pines in the ceiling design.

Aboriginal learners at the College can meet with Aboriginal elders for counseling, enjoy space for independent or group study, and participate in cultural ceremonies—including daily smudge ceremonies, an essential part of the Blackfoot way of life. For Bow Valley College First Nations, Métis and Inuit students, this centre is a place to find serenity and is their home away from home.

Click here to read the original news release.

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