North-end semester receives start-up funding

The Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society has secured nearly $1 million to start a new semester in Old Massett and Masset.

The Haida Gwaii Higher Education Society has secured nearly $1 million to start a new Reconciliation Studies semester in Old Massett and Masset next September.

“This is the moment where I get to say this is happening,” said Carlos Ormond, executive director of the local non-profit society, who made the announcement last week as he introduced a Masset Lectures talk by Karen Joseph, CEO of Reconciliation Canada.

Since 2010, the HGHES has run two 14-week programs in Skidegate for visiting university students who are studying natural resources.

Co-authored and taught by indigenous and non-indigenous instructors, the new Reconciliation Studies semester will draw students from a wide range of academic disciplines, and includes five courses that were approved by UBC in May.

The courses cover First Nations history, indigenous and European legal traditions, as well as current views of reconciliation, and its role in natural resource management.

Ormond said the HGHES was recently approved for a $500,000, four-year grant from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, which the society will use to match a $450,000 grant received from the BC Rural Dividends fund thanks to support from the Village of Masset.

Ormond said the grants are welcome, especially because starting a new program comes with extra start-up costs, and because classes are rarely enrolled to capacity in the first year.

“While this is great, and this program will be running at full capacity in four years, we now have four years as an organization and a community to keep the program running past four years,” he said.