Members of ElderCollege examine a copy of the Bayeux Tapestry in a history course. File photo

Comox Valley ElderCollege celebrates 20 years

The public is invited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Comox Valley ElderCollege at North Island College.

The event is Friday, Sept. 13 from 2-3 p.m. It will include speeches from past and current ElderCollege officials, and an unveiling of a commemorative plaque in the foyer outside the Stan Hagen Theatre.

ElderCollege serves students on the far side of 50 (55 or more in the Comox Valley). Members gain access to more than 140 courses and lectures annually, without the stress of grades or exams.

“This celebration marks more than just an anniversary,” said John Bowman, NIC president. “We’re recognizing the extraordinary, sustained effort by dedicated volunteers who have grown the Comox Valley ElderCollege membership to more than 1,000 students, ensuring the joy of education continues at all ages. They have created a legacy of lifelong learning that NIC is proud to be a part of.”

Comox Valley residents Betty Emery and Elizabeth Smith first pitched the concept of ElderCollege to NIC in 1999 as a vehicle for continued learning in the community. Then-college president Dr. Lou Dryden embraced the idea and pledged support in the form of registration assistance and classroom availability. ElderCollege has also expanded to NIC’s Campbell River and Port Alberni campus.

All NIC ElderColleges are volunteer-run and self-funded.

Comox Valley ElderCollege chair Michael Syer became a member in 2009, and has enjoyed Saturday lectures and participating in courses including photography, the Canadian constitution and more. He so enjoyed his early experience that he volunteered for the organization’s finance and administration committee, later becoming chair.

“ElderCollege gave me the opportunity to connect to my new community and was a highlight on many a dull winter morning,” said Syer. “We get this feedback from our students again and again. It connects classmates, lifts spirits and generally enriches people’s lives, no matter if they are an instructor, student or volunteer.”

Following speeches and the plaque unveiling, guests can mingle and enjoy refreshments. The event is free, but the public must register in advance by visiting

Innumerable volunteering opportunities abound to maintain the continued dynamic viability of this gem of an organization in the Comox Valley.

Visit the website at for more information, and plan to attend the free information forum at the Stan Hagen Theatre on Sept. 7 to hear about the exciting upcoming lectures and courses.

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