Aboriginal Gathering Place opens with festive ceremony

The new Aboriginal Gathering Place at Castlegar's Selkirk College was officially opened on Thursday.

Pauline Terbasket

Pauline Terbasket

The new Aboriginal Gathering Place at Castlegar’s Selkirk College was officially opened on Thursday with a ceremony that featured many Aboriginal leaders, college dignitaries, and others.

The Gathering Place is a specially designed and dedicated structure that will be utilized to promote and celebrate Aboriginal culture, ceremony, learning and ill provide a supportive environment that is welcoming and relevant to Aboriginal students, their families, as well as the larger Aboriginal community.

“We’re celebrating the culmination of a three year project to bring an Aboriginal Gathering Place to Selkirk College,” said Angus Graeme, president of Selkirk College. “It’s been a wonderful project to build in the community – to build a bigger neighbourhood. We start to think about how the college can be more inclusive to Aboriginal learners and how to celebrate and link that culture to learning and also to provide students with a better chance of success while with us here at the college.”

The opening ceremony featuring many different speakers from the Aboriginal community. There was also student poetry, music, dance, and a prayer led by elders.

“We’ve been working with partner governments from the Aboriginal communities,” said Graeme. “It’s been wonderful to work with the territorial First Nations governments and also with the Metis Nation B.C. The idea is to ensure that as the Gathering Place takes shape, as we start to do more programming, we do it in such a way that we acknowledge our region’s culture. But also celebrates all other cultures of the people that come to Selkirk.”

The Gathering Place has been funded by grants from the provincial government’s Gathering Places Capital Fund ($600,000), Columbia Basin Trust ($200,000), and Teck Metals Trail Operation ($50,000).