Donalda beeson – Contributor
About a dozen community members and businesses attended the College of New Caledonia’s (CNC), public input meetings in Valemount last week. The McBride CNC meeting will be tonight.
Riette Kenkel, in conjunction with Barbara Old, the Dean of Community and International Education at CNC Prince George, held a meeting, looking for resources, teachers and ideas. The plan, said Kenkel, “is to hopefully get some Continuing Education courses going in the non-NORE (Northern Outdoor Recreation and Ecotourism) years,” but first she needs to know, “What does the community want and what does the community have to offer?”
Number one, she said, “we want to be able to offer course to the community that the community wants and needs. We need to look at, what kind of courses we can fill…and if there is enough interest.” Old said ten to twelve students is the bottom line to run a class and break even, and “the reality is there may not be a role for CNC, if we can’t get the business people to send their staff,” and if there are only two or three people here or there interested in one thing.
Next, they would like to see if they could run a program that is unique to Valemount. Something similar to the NORE program that attracts people from outside the community, as well
as employing people within the community as instructors.
As the Learning Center already offers general interest courses through a grant from CNC, this would be an expansion of that with the two working together but running separately. Nancy Taylor, Councillor, Consultant and Adult Learner, thinks the core issue is “how to keep the young people that have grown up in the Valley and want to stay here, here. There’s nothing
for them here, we have to think about keeping them here and developing their skills so they can stay.” There were some truly innovative ideas presented, as well as some that CNC already addresses and may be able to creatively apply in the Robson Valley.
Mike Austin, Career Councillor at the Learning Center, feels there is interest in starting small businesses, and would like to see a program run where you actually start the business, and work in conjunction with a mentor who has experience in small business.
Old said CNC already offers the Business Next Generation program, where upon completion students have the choice to either close it down or buy it out, with your tuition basically becoming the initial investment. However, as Old points out, this requires a great deal of community mentors.
Kenkel felt this idea addressed education as well as stimulating business, and could extend to people interested in e-commerce, such as E-Bay businesses.
As per the latest Economic Needs study by the Regional District, Bruce Wilkinson suggested the community focus on the tourism and hospitality industry, and that a lot of training is
still needed within our community.
Wilkinson also pointed out that Valemount is built on entrepreneurs, people that out of a want to stay here, find a way to do it, and it’s through “small things, small courses.” Low tuition and inexpensive housing options could also help attract people to the Robson Valley for educational purposes.
As well, it was suggested that the school could offer more in depth guiding courses, something to enhance the NORE program, and perhaps keep students here.
A Cooking Program was also suggested, and Kenkel said the principal at the High School in Valemount is open to making arrangements to share the kitchen. Another suggestion was to do this using local food, the “100 kilometre diet,” or doing the Cooks Assistant/Camp Cook program offered at CNC, which ended in many students finding jobs in Camps. Jody Newham, Program Coordinator at the leaning Center, is interested in pure “intellectual stimulation,” and she doesn’t want to go somewhere else to do that. There was more expressed interest in general interest courses in areas such as Humanities, Liberal Arts, Fine Arts, and Languages, perhaps even at a first year College credit level, to make transition into postsecondary education a little easier and cheaper.
Another topic of discussion was the 55 plus market, and retreat style courses that could attract Adult Learners, perhaps in a package idea with things such as Yoga, Canoeing and Organic
Other course ideas included but were not limited to, Rig Technician, Welding and other trade apprenticeships, green living, sustainable development, Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), and Helicopter Maintenance. Someone even suggested having our own Film School, or becoming an Arts Festival Community.
As per the need for instructors in the Valley, they are hoping some people will come forward, or you may find them seeking you out. Old said that, “typically someone teaching academic
courses needs a Masters Degree in the area,” for trades, a Red Seal in whatever they are teaching, and in areas such as the hospitality industry, a Bachelors degree and x-number of years in the industry, and ideally an instructor’s diploma, would qualify. Wilkinson said taking the Provincial Instructor Training diploma, which allowed him to teach at the College, is one of the best things you can do if you are interested in becoming an instructor.