North Island College’s board of governors will expand local expertise, leadership, and passion for post-secondary education later this month, thanks to the appointment of K’ómoks First Nations Chief Robert Everson.
Everson was appointed in February and will officially join the board at its March 31 meeting in Campbell River.
“Everson’s considerable knowledge of the Comox Valley will benefit the board greatly,” said NIC board chair Bruce Bell. “His passion for post-secondary education and leadership are highly respected and I am pleased to welcome him to the board today.”
Everson is a long-standing supporter and alumnus of NIC. He graduated from NIC in 2002 with a Computer Sciences diploma and Computer Information Systems certificate. In addition, all three of his children studied at NIC. Keisha took University Transfer courses at NIC before earning her teaching degree at UVic, while Karver and Kia are taking Fine Arts and University Transfer courses at NIC’s Comox Valley campus.
“Post-secondary education is vital to the success of our communities,” said Everson. “It is an honour to be appointed to North Island College’s Board of Governors which supports students in achieving their educational goals closer to home.”
In May 2015, Everson and the K’ómoks First Nation hosted NIC and representatives of 35 First Nations from Vancouver Island and the BC Central Coast at the K’ómoks Big House to sign a groundbreaking Indigenous Education protocol, which was recognized nationally in Maclean’s Magazine.
The commitments within the protocol are key elements of Plan 2020, NIC’s five-year strategic plan which includes Aboriginal Education and Indigenization as one of the College’s priorities.
Last year, the K’ómoks First Nation worked with NIC faculty and researchers, as well as Project Watershed, to map eelgrass in the K’ómoks Estuary. The research equipment was donated to the Guardian Watchmen program, which monitors commercial and recreational activities in K’ómoks’ traditional territories.
In his role as chief, Everson sits on the Kumugwe Cultural Society executive and is one of six Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations leaders on the Nanwakolas Council, which works with provincial and federal governments to support land use, marine planning and regional economic development issues.
Everson’s appointment coincides with a reappointment of current NIC Board Chair Bruce Bell, a retired lawyer, who has practiced in B.C., Alberta and the United Kingdom and joined the NIC board in 2012.
In the past month, NIC has also seen the reappointment of two experienced and respected Campbell River businessmen, vice-chair Derek Lamb and realtor Roy Grant. St. Joseph’s General Hospital president and CEO Jane Murphy was also reappointed at the meeting. They join community members Vi Mundy, Greg Phelps, Kathleen Nelson and Rhonda Johnson as well as student representatives Peter Hoefgen and Ulysse Ishimwe, support staff representative Cathy Reyno and faculty representative Kim Gibson.
NIC’s Board of Governors operates under B.C.’s College and Institute Act. It is comprised of nine government-appointed community members and four elected NIC representatives. NIC President, John Bowman and College Education Council Chair, Dennis Lightfoot, are ex officio board members.