Northlands College grand opening welcomes NORTEP, NORPAC students
- NC Raine | February 22, 2018
Education students at Northlands College in La Ronge are celebrating finally being under one roof. The students gathered on January 17th at the Rock Campus at Northlands College for a grand opening lunch to welcome new and transferring education students.
Northlands College, as of July 31st, has taken over the programs previously offered by the Northern Teacher Education Program (NORTEP) and Saskatchewan Northern Professional Access College (NORPAC). The grand opening marked the arrival of all former NORTEP students who were transferring.
“We're trying to make everything welcome – bringing all our students together so the former NORTEP students feel like they're a part of the Northlands culture,” said Northlands President and CEO Toby Greschner.
“It's really about empowering northern people to be educated and take control of their own destiny.”
The celebration included a blessing from an elder, a drum ceremony, and lunch to welcome the 41 students transferring from NORTEP and NORPAC. Northlands is now part of a bigger system that has more students and offers more choice, says Greschner, including high school teacher education, which meets a big need in the north.
“We're trying to get away from the way it was ten years ago, where the only game in town was NORTEP. You had to become a teacher. Now there's a wider range of options for students,” he said.
Kristy Waite is a third year Bachelor of Education student who transferred from NORTEP to Northlands. She says that while the process was stressful at times, that Northlands has been doing everything they can to accommodate the students.
“Northlands was more than helpful and continues to be more more than helpful,” said Waite.
The students who transferred from NORTEP are in the same building, the same classroom, and have some of the same instructors. The continuity is helping many students, like Waite, stay in the north.
“Ideally, I want to stay in the north,” she says. “A lot of us were scared, we didn't want to move to the bigger cities, we wanted to stay near our northern communities, and that's what this provides.”
Northlands looks to continue its expansion of program offerings and campuses in northern Saskatchewan, hoping to expand their reach to La Loche, Sandy Bay, and Cumberland House.
“We've always been in a trajectory to grow university program offerings. The numbers are growing,” said Greschner. “We're developing this college, town, and college culture for students. We want to have 500 students registered in university classes in five years time.”
And with adequate healthcare often a question in northern communities, Greschner says Northlands will continue to make training healthcare professionals a priority.
“If we don't have healthy people and healthy communities, we have nothing,” he says. “We work hard to make sure students and community members are aware of able to access the health services they need, wherever they are.”