Colleges are not just a centre of learning, they are a community hub – Greg Weadick, Minister of Advanced Education and Technology, emphasized this today during his reflections about Keyano College’s newly inaugurated Fort Chipewyan Campus.
Representatives from the Alberta Government, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, local First Nations groups, donors, and sponsors shared the milestone event along with Keyano staff and students.
The beautiful, sunny day ushered in a new beginning for the hamlet of Fort Chipewyan. Keyano’s presence in the region goes back more than 30 years and today’s grand opening was a promise kept.
“This is the farthest north campus in Alberta located in the longest continuously inhabited settlement in Alberta. It is an opportunity for the people of Fort Chipewyan to stay at home and study. A college is a centre of community – where arts and culture thrives. This fits into the Campus Alberta model whereby education is accessible to everyone,” Weadick explained.
The Campus was inaugurated with a prayer by elder Marjorie Glanfield and a prayer song by the Northern Wolves, a local drumming group. A welcome from the new Chair of the Fort Chipewyan Campus, Margo Vermillion, preceded the ribbon cutting ceremony featuring Minister Weadick, Dr. Kevin Nagel, President & CEO, Keyano College, along with other dignitaries.
“Today is an exciting day for Keyano College. Congratulations to everyone who worked on making this a reality. This grand opening is a new beginning,” noted Dr. Nagel.
Representatives from key donors: Shell, Total E&P, Enbridge, and Imperial Oil congratulated Keyano College and emphasized the critical importance of education and collaboration to benefit the region. They were presented with gifts of commemorative prints featuring northern Alberta scenery.
Guests also placed congratulatory mementos onto a specially commissioned dream-catcher, which as pointed out by Minister Weadick, represented the idea that “everyone dreams big in Fort Chipewyan.”
The Fort Chipewyan Campus was constructed at a cost of just over $3.5 million. The facility was built to replicate the Keyano logo and is about 800 square metres. A stunning feature of the building is the ample sunlight, which is inviting for students and visitors alike. The seven classrooms are equipped with educational technology such as SMARTBoards. The Campus is home to the Jeanne MacIntyre Library, named after the first Chair of the Campus, and features a beautiful student lounge.
“I like our new campus very much. The people, the building, it’s all great. I see more students joining now,” said Darren Mercredi, an Upgrading student at the Campus.
Norma Jean Davis agrees. She has been a Keyano Instructor for over a decade and says the new Campus and today’s event has many meanings.
“We have a building to call our own now. The SMARTBoards in the classes ensure I can stay current in my teaching practices, which is something our young students expect. This Campus has an atmosphere that invites people to come in and learn,” shares Davis.
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