Empowering futures: BCIT Indigenous Youth Gathering

In an inspiring convergence at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), over 100 Indigenous youth and staff from three high school districts were given a unique opportunity to envision their future through various workshops and cultural exchanges at the BCIT Indigenous Youth Gathering. This event, aimed at exploring post-secondary opportunities at BCIT and highlighting Indigenous and non-Indigenous industry leaders, marked a significant step towards fulfilling the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action (#7) by increasing Indigenous representation in higher education. 

Elder Carleen Thomas
Elder Carleen Thomas

The day began with a Protocol Welcome from Elder Carleen Thomas, Tsleil Waututh Nation, an Institute welcome from BCIT President Dr. Jeff Zabudsky, and an acknowledgement from Tami Pierce, Associate Director, Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships. The event was filled with hands-on workshops covering a broad spectrum, from health sciences, broadcasting, and trades to business and marketing. However, the cultural workshops, like cedar weaving, made this gathering special, connecting deeply to Indigenous traditions. The event culminated in a reflective session with Elders over tea and bannock, where participants absorbed invaluable Indigenous knowledge on education. This blend of practical skills and cultural wisdom underscored the message that pursuing dreams and higher education is within reach for every Indigenous youth. 

Students at the BCIT Indigenous Youth Gathering

Keynote speakers Kobie Smith and Dr. Joshua Nash, Canada’s Big Brother 10 runner-up shared their deeply personal journeys of overcoming barriers to achieving success. Kobie, a BCIT Indigenous Student Champion and Hereditary Chief in Haisla Nation, spoke with heartfelt honesty about the challenges and victories in his life, emphasizing resilience and the importance of rising after a fall. “It was a great honour to share and be a part of the event,” Kobie remarked, highlighting the power of sharing stories to inspire and uplift.  

Dr. Joshua Nash’s narrative added another layer of inspiration, illustrating his ascent from challenging beginnings marked by poverty to becoming a pediatrician, celebrated Indigenous role model, and beacon of hope for many. His story, enriched by his deep pride in his heritage and the lessons learned from his community, resonated with the youth, showcasing the power of perseverance and dedication. 

Students at the BCIT Indigenous Youth Gathering

Wendy McLeod, Coordinator, BCIT Respect, Diversity, and Inclusion, emphasized the profound sense of community and belonging fostered at BCIT. “Bringing Indigenous youth together at BCIT is beneficial not only for the students but also for BCIT. We strive to create a space where students feel they truly belong and are supported.”  This commitment to fostering a supportive environment where Indigenous culture and traditions are celebrated was palpable throughout the event.  

The Indigenous Youth Gathering is a testament to BCIT’s unwavering commitment to supporting Indigenous communities through education and training opportunities. As Tami Pierce, Associate Director, Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships, puts it, “Our goal is to introduce Indigenous youth to educational opportunities and to support them throughout their journey– from exploring programs to enrolment to graduation.” This commitment, demonstrated through initiatives like the Indigenous Youth Gathering, is a crucial step in our shared journey of reconciliation, paving the way for a future where Indigenous youth can thrive and reach their full potential.

Learn more about BCIT Indigenous Initiatives and Partnerships.



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