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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — Northern Lights College’s Elders in Residence program is open and helping to share Indigenous knowledge with the community.

The program was officially launched in October and, according to Northern Lights College (NLC), is a way to create “a pathway for Elders to share their knowledge with students, staff, and faculty through conversations, storytelling, and classroom visits.”

A local Indigenous Elder will join the college each month for a week of events between the Fort St. John and Dawson Creek campuses. These events include classroom visits, conversation circles, tea and bannock, and tours. 

Before the program began, Elders had been invited to classes and events with the college in a more informal way. Director of Indigenous Education, Helen Knott, sought to change that. 

Using her experience with the Elders in Residence program at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT) in Merritt, Knott put together the program at NLC to help show the college’s commitment to Indigenous knowledge and stories. 

Some Elders involved in the program are Gerry Attachie, David Rattray, Clarence Apsassin, Malcolm Supernault, Bernadette Cardinal, and Vera Nicholson.

Thus far, the college has hosted Attachie and Rattray and plans to host Apsassin in January 2023. 

Knott said she thinks the program is going well and that the reception has been incredible.

“Seeing how willing and responsive instructors have been to having Elders in the classroom identifies that need or hunger for the knowledge to be shared. I have these moments of being so happy seeing our knowledge keepers in these spaces,” Knott said in an NLC release. 

The Elders in Residence program will run for the duration of the academic year, ending in May 2023.

(Image courtesy of Aleisha Hendry, Northern Lights College)

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Katherine Caddel is a recent graduate of Laurentian University's English Media and Rhetoric program. They grew up in Northern Ontario and recently decided to make the North Peace their new home. When not at work, Katherine enjoys horror movies, playing video games and Dungeons and Dragons.