New residence connects with aboriginal students

The new Indigenous Integrated Learning Community has opened at the University of B.C.’s Okanagan campus

Opening this semester, the new Indigenous Integrated Learning Community at the University of B.C.’s Okanagan campus provides a place for students in residence to learn, connect with each other, and grow as a community.

Students who share common interests and identities are brought together to live within one community on campus, designed to enhance the residence and university experience.

The Indigenous ILC is open to all aboriginal and non-aboriginal undergraduate students. Its focus is on fostering practical connections with the local Aboriginal community and creating regular programming that may include both on-campus and off-campus activities.

Participants will also have the opportunity to engage with various annual cultural events, such as the Okanagan Nation Salmon Feast and Lake Country Native Association Pow-Wow.

“A great deal of the culture of each ILC is determined and developed by the student’s within the community; they are encouraged to take an active role in shaping their community and in contributing to the larger campus community,” said Ned Gallagher, residence life manager, Student Housing and Hospitality Services.

In the 2005/2006 academic year, there were 58 undergraduate and graduate students at UBC’s Okanagan campus who self-identified as aboriginal. This year, that number has grown to 331 – an increase of 470 per cent since UBC opened its doors in the Okanagan.

“As our campus continues to experience increasing numbers of self-identified aboriginal students, providing a sense of belonging and opportunities for all students to engage in intercultural understanding throughout their university experience is key,” said Jeannine Kuemmerle, acting manager of aboriginal programs and services.

“The ILC allows for students to actively learn about and contribute to intercultural understanding outside of the classroom, extending it to the daily living and relationships that are part of their residence life experience.”

The indigenous community is one of five ILCs found throughout UBC’s Okanagan residence. Others include the performing arts community, international community, healthy living community, and the leadership and civic engagement community.