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North Island College connects with Hawaii schools

Agreements on tuition and cultural exchange hammered out
Students and employees from NIC and Kapiʻolani Community College gather in Honolulu to celebrate the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two colleges. Submitted photo

North Island College has signed two memorandums of understanding in support of indigenization, sharing of knowledge and study abroad between Vancouver Island and Hawaiʻi.

The first agreement with the University of Hawaiʻi, lays the groundwork for student, faculty and staff exchanges between NIC and the seven community colleges that make up the University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges. The agreement allows NIC students to pay NIC tuition while studying in Hawaiʻi.

The second agreement, with Kapiʻolani Community College in Hawaiʻi, builds upon a 15-year relationship between the two educational institutions, with an expanded focus on educational pathways, joint research projects and cultural exchange opportunities for students, faculty and staff.

The signings were part of a recent field school trip, where Kwak’wala students in the Indigenous Language Fluency Certificate from Port Hardy, were invited to Honolulu for a cultural exchange. The cohort was offered in partnership with the Kwakiutl, Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw and Quatsino Nations.

“We raise our hands in gratitude to University of Hawaiʻi Vice President for Community Colleges Erika Lacro, Kapiʻolani Community College Chancellor Louise Pagotto, the Native Hawaiian Council and Dean Nāwaʻa Napoleon for hosting NIC,” said NIC president & CEO, Lisa Domae. “Indigenous-led, land-based language revitalization is at the very heart of NIC’s commitment to ‘work together as one’ and to walk the long path toward truth and reconciliation. As island schools, we share a special kinship with the University of Hawaiʻi and Kapiʻolani Community College that we look forward to growing together. These two agreements build on our previous relationships and expand opportunities for students to include studying abroad as part of their learning at NIC.”

The 10-day trip was part of the Global Skills Opportunity project, funded by Employment and Social Development Canada and is administered jointly by Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada.

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The theme of the trip was revitalizing the deeply rooted connections with Hawaiian families that were established generations ago with Indigenous communities on Vancouver Island and to learn about indigenization and Native Hawaiian language revitalization from the University of Hawaiʻi and Kapiʻolani Community College.

“Though the histories of the First Nations of Canada and the Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i diverge in the details, it is clear that much is shared: deeply held convictions about sovereignty, the primacy of cultural and linguistic heritage, and sacred relationships with the land,” said Louise Pagotto, Chancellor of Kapiʻolani Community College. “We have so much to learn from each other about how to promote Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing within Western academic institutions for the betterment of our communities. Our agreement memorializes these shared goals and commits us to furthering these deep connections.”

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