From the highs of opening the expanded Campbell River campus to the uncertainty that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the globe, 2020 will be remembered as one of the most challenging years the North Island College community has faced.
However, the year is also marked by the dedication, hard work and commitment of the faculty, staff and administration in ensuring NIC students have the support they need.
“As we look back on what has happened in the last 12 months, I’m filled with pride and gratitude for the incredible work done by the entire NIC community,” said NIC president, John Bowman. “It wasn’t easy, and more challenges lie ahead, but I am grateful for this opportunity to look back at all we accomplished over the last year and say thank-you to our students, faculty, staff, donors, administrators and community partners.”
Following the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, NIC student services and supports were rolled out digitally to support students, and keep students up-to-date on the latest information from the provincial health officer and NIC’s responses to keep students safe. Faculty worked around the clock to transition in-person classes online and support students as they wrapped up the winter term.
|North Island College student Jeannine Lindsay took Kwak’wala language courses online this summer. Photo supplied|
The transition to digital delivery was challenging, but also showcased how virtual learning can connect us, with online Indigenous language classes bringing together students from across the region and online marine training benefiting students from Yellowknife to Newfoundland.
NIC annual celebrations transitioned to virtual events, including program-specific events like the DIGITAL Design + Development department virtual grad show, and large events including Grad 2020 and Orientation for the Fall term.
NIC also became the first post-secondary institution in B.C. to announce its delivery plan for the 2020/2021 academic year, which included fully digital and digital/on-campus blended offerings. Full COVID-19 safety plans and Safe Start Guidelines were put in place for all programs which required students to come onto campus.
Along with the shift to increased online learning, NIC continued to work on developing new, responsive programming to serve its communities. New trades programming included two new coastal forestry programs, metal fabrication foundation trades training returning to the Campbell River campus, and the introduction of motor sport and power equipment, and parts & warehouse person programs. NIC’s carpentry foundation harmonized certificate was expanded to the Campbell River campus and NIC also announced new women in construction trades training – a series of tuition-free sessions, which will provide an overview of various trades programs and skills taught at NIC.
A new community mental health worker certificate was announced in Port Hardy and Port Alberni, which will start in February. An evening/weekend offering of the health care assistant program started in November and new specialty training was launched by NIC’s continuing education department, including online craft brewing and malting courses, small-scale sustainable farming, and digital elevation expertise.
Early 2020 saw NIC host its first-ever Thrive Week. Events were held across all NIC campuses to celebrate community, encourage self-care and promote mental health literacy.
Starting in March, NIC student services went virtual to support students learning digitally. Advising and counselling supports moved fully online along with events like the Library & Learning Commons Late Night Against Procrastination.
NIC also joined forces with institutions across Vancouver Island for virtual events to support its students. The 2020 North Island Post-Secondary Tour offered new and current students the chance to learn about transfer and pathway opportunities from college to university. The Beyond 2020 – Vancouver Island Career & Connections Fair brought together students, employers, industry partners, alumni and associations to learn about current and future co-op and career opportunities.
|NIC President John Bowman (left) and NIC Director of Student Affairs Felicity Blaiklock (right) sign the Okanagan Charter. Image courtesy NIC|
In October, NIC celebrated the adoption of the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges. The signing of the charter signifies NIC’s commitment to supporting the mental health and well-being of its students. The recognition took place on the first day of NIC’s Mental Health Week, with a series of events and initiatives to support students’ mental health and well-being.
NIC students will benefit from more than $1.4 million in donations, thanks to three record-setting gifts to the NIC Foundation.
The Mailman Family Foundation’s $1 million gift marks the largest donation in NIC Foundation history. A $285,000 legacy gift from Dr. Allan Duncan Pritchard marked the largest legacy gift, and $125,000 from Chan Nowasad Boates was the largest corporate cash gift in NIC Foundation history. To further support students, the foundation launched its COVID-19 Student Hope Campaign to help reduce the financial barriers created by the pandemic.
2020 was a busy year for NIC research. Biology students worked with Project Watershed to collect samples for fish foraging research. NIC’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation (CARTI) was featured in a Maclean’s Magazine article which showcased the importance of connections between colleges and the communities they serve. The article featured the kelp research CARTI is doing with the Kwiakah First Nation. CARTI also took part in two seaweed research projects; one on seaweed processing and one on using seaweed as cattle feed.
2020 also marked the completion of the Raising Student Nurses project, which looked at including immersive, in-community learning for first-year student nurses. The research of NIC bachelor of science in nursing faculty Joanna Fraser and Dr. Evelyn Voyageur was published in the Canadian Journal of Critical Nursing Discourse and in the book S’TENISTOLW: Moving Indigenous Education Forward.
“It’s incredible to see all the amazing work that has been accomplished throughout the past year, despite all the challenges we faced,” said Bowman.
“As we head into 2021, we’ll continue to see a roll-out of new programs, student services and community connections to support our students to achieve their goals.”
For more information and a complete list of news stories throughout the past year, visit www.nic.bc.ca.