Family and friends of the late Marion Wright join hands after planting a cedar tree in her memory during the opening and blessing of The Gathering Place at the North Island College campus Monday.

The tree of life and Marion’s spirit help create The Gathering Place

A symbol that welcomes First Nations students to North Island College

The spirit of Marion Wright and her mission to improve advanced education opportunities for First Nation students is alive and well in Campbell River.

Wright, a former North Island College educator and political candidate who died this winter, was remembered fondly Monday during the official opening and blessing of The Gathering Place at the city’s college campus.

“Children were her passion,” said George Hunt Jr. “She always believed in bringing wisdom to the table.”

The Gathering Place, situated in front of the college entrance, is an open-air, post-and-beam structure built in the style of a traditional West Coast long house.

“A goal of North Island College is to improve First Nations students’ success,” said college president Jan Lindsay. “(The Gathering Place) is a symbol to welcome First Nations students.”

It’s also more than that. It’s a place all students can gather for school celebrations, to relax in the shade or just to marvel at the massive old growth red cedar post and beams, which were expertly hand-peeled and adzed by First Nations master carver Bill Henderson and his nephew Junior Henderson of the Campbell River Indian Band.

“You got to give them some character,” Bill Henderson said of the adz design on the wood. “And I thought it was fitting for it to be red cedar, it’s our tree of life.”

Lindsay was also impressed by the simple elegance of the structure.

“The building is spectacular,” she said, as she ran a hand over the rippled surface of the adz work. “It’s amazing the texture it brings.”

In her speech, Lindsay pointed out that 36 First Nations bands are encompassed in the region served by the college and it’s important for them to know they are welcomed and appreciated. It’s a message that wasn’t lost on Chief Ralph Dick of the Cape Mudge Indian Band.

“Education and culture are very important to our young people…(The Gathering Place) makes you feel good inside because you know the community is behind you,” he said.

Education and culture were also cornerstones of Wright’s own beliefs. She was recognized as a co-creator for the vision of aboriginal education at North Island College, and a person who wanted to make life better for others.

After The Gathering Place received a traditional First Nations blessing, everyone gathered out front, joined hands in a circle around a cedar tree which was planted in Wright’s memory. The blessing was also marked by traditional aboriginal drumming, singing, dancing, and a salmon barbecue.

“Things like this make my heart flutter,” said Barb Mitchell of the K’omoks Indian Band.

Just Posted

Campbell River rallies around Jonah Shankar

Community has raised more than $100,000 for his treatment in a few weeks

Drag racing open house attracts 200-plus in Campbell River

Proponents still need to provide more information to the City

Rain and high winds to hit Vancouver Island this afternoon

Thursday and Friday to see downpour of 20 to 50mm and high winds on Vancouver Island

Interested in opening a cannabis store? City to process applications through provincial referral

People interested in opening a retail cannabis outlet should get their paperwork… Continue reading

Campbell River’s advisory committee restructuring questioned

A group made up of 10 local non-profit agencies had serious concerns… Continue reading

Watch out for Pavement Patty: Drivers warned outside B.C. elementary school

New survey reveals unsafe school zones during 2018 back-to-school week

Update: Search called off for missing plane between Edmonton and Chilliwack

Search efforts were concentrated along the Highway 5 corridor between Valemount and Kamloops

Why Whistler for ski jumping in 2026? Calgary proposal gets pushback

Calgary 2026 proposes re-using the 2010 ski jumping venue Whistler for that sport and nordic

Despite progress, threat of 232 tariffs dominates NAFTA negotiations

Any deal is seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 to survive new Mexican government

VIDEO: Hundreds line highway as family brings home body of B.C. teen

Northern B.C. showed their support by lining Hwy 16 as Jessica Patrick’s body returned to Smithers.

B.C. MP Todd Doherty receives award for saving man who collapsed on a plane

Conservative MP was flying from Vancouver to Prince George, B.C., in June last year

Alleged border jumper from Oregon facing 2 charges after police chase in B.C.

Colin Patrick Wilson charged with dangerous operation of motor vehicle, flight from a peace officer

More than 35 B.C. mayors elected without contest

No other candidates for mayor in the upcoming local election in 22 per cent of B.C. cities

‘Hero’ kid fighting cancer helping with B.C. Children’s Hospital fundraiser

Penticton’s Wills Hodgkinson helping raise funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital

Most Read