Partnering for Success: UFV, School of Social Work and Human Services, Nuxalk Nation, and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology

University of the Fraser Valley is excited to be collaborating with Nuxalk Nation to offer a degree completion in Bella Coola, British Columbia. The School of Social Work and Human Services is proud of Robert Harding, PhD, researcher and faculty member who is one of the Arts, Science and Professional Studies faculty members to teach in this collaborative. Dr. Harding’s years of research and advocacy includes critical discourse analysis of news representations of Indigenous peoples and issues in Canada. Dr. Harding has previously taught Indigenous students in northern Quebec and over the past two years has teamed up with the Nuxalk Nation and UFV to support Indigenous students in their journey to complete a UFV degree while living in their community. Students enrolled in the intensive one-week IPK 344: Indigenous Methodologies course taught by Dr. Harding “expressed their gratitude to UFV for providing them with the opportunity to further their education without having to leave their families, communities and cultures behind.”

According to Peter Geller, VP Provost, “this marks the third cohort of graduates of Nicola Valley Institute of Technology’s Chemical Addiction Worker Advanced diploma, and the first to be offered in a First Nations community (the previous two were offered at NVIT’s Vancouver campus). UFV and Nuxalk Nation acknowledge Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada for providing the funding for this partnership program.

The students in Bella Coola receive 30 credits towards their Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree. This provides the requirements for a BGS, allowing these Aboriginal students to gain the degree required for employment in their field of addictions counseling as well as providing the opportunity for further graduate studies.

As a community-based program that is being delivered in partnership with the Nuxalk Nation at the Lip’alhayc Learning Centre in Bella Coola, faculty have had the opportunity to co-teach (and teach adjacent) with Elders and cultural knowledge keepers from the community. Most importantly, students are earning a BGS degree from UFV while continuing to be supported by their friends and family. While Nuxalk College has partnered with BC colleges and universities to offer adult education and post-secondary programming in Bella Coola for almost thirty years, this is the first time that students will be able to graduate with a degree offered entirely in the community.”

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