International students all come here to experience Canadian culture. But how many of them really experience Canada’s roots?
North Island College (NIC) is reimagining international education with the launch of one of Canada’s first Indigenous-focused international education plans.
Mark Herringer is NIC’s Executive Director, Global Engagement. “Our goal, when we started, was to find a way for International Education at NIC to be truly Indigenous serving,” he said.
“We wanted to connect NIC’s international students and programming with local Indigenous communities and look at what we do through an Indigenous lens.”
It’s all about building relationships and fostering Indigenous-led learning. Whether that’s for students who come to study here, or for our own students who go abroad.
The “Journeying Together” learning plan builds on NIC’s existing study-abroad opportunities.
In the last couple of years, staff have set up Indigenous student virtual exchanges with students in Costa Rica. Students have also travelled to Kapi’olani Community College in Hawaii for NIC’s first fully Indigenous Language Fluency Field School.
These experiences are just a couple of examples of the kinds of programming that will be built upon to encourage sharing of Indigenous languages, cultures and learning.
During the virtual exchange, it was very eye-opening to see that Indigenous people in a different country have so much in common with people in Canada. It gave me a deeper understanding into the human condition and was really uplifting to know that many people share the type of change we want to see in the world.
— NIC student, English 096
They’ll also place a huge focus on engaging students with NIC Elders and their communities. They’ll be creating opportunities for international students to participate in local Indigenous events, and add local Indigenous culture and history to all introductory programming.
“Sharing Circles” will also be implemented, following the UNESCO ‘Story Circle’ methodology. They will allow students to explore Indigenous and international perspectives to create the best learning outcomes and inclusive environments.
“North Island College acknowledges and understands that unravelling the impacts of colonization will span generations and that we are wholeheartedly dedicated to our role and shared responsibility in the process of meaningful reconciliation,” said Kelly Shopland, Executive Director of Indigenous Education.
This is just the beginning.