RBC funds aboriginal program

Bank donation creates opportunities for students.

Photo contributed Moira Jenkin

Photo contributed Moira Jenkin

As part of its commitment to building relationships and creating opportunities for Canada’s aboriginal peoples, RBC donated $40,000 to Vancouver Island University’s aboriginal construction program.

“We recognize training and education help lay the groundwork for future success of aboriginal youth in Canada,” said Moira Jenkins, RBC vice-president commercial financial services. “That’s why we are so excited to support the aboriginal construction program at VIU.”

During the celebration at Shq’apthut, the university’s Aboriginal Gathering Place, Fred MacDonald, dean of trades and applied technology, asked the crowd to look up at the giant beams supporting the building’s roof.

“This building was constructed with the help of students in the aboriginal construction program,” he said. “Not only is it one of the greenest buildings on campus but it’s also the most traditional.”

It’s that combination of modern technology and traditional values that Sharon Hobenshield, director of aboriginal education at VIU, said make programs such as this so important.

“To authentically deliver aboriginal programs that will make a difference in the lives of aboriginal people, we have to resource them differently to honour both Western and indigenous teachings,” she said. “This can only happen if we work collectively and in partnership as we are doing here with RBC.”

The program combines aboriginal cultural components with industry training authority Level 1 carpentry.

Components include recognition of cultural issues regarding education and traditional construction, as well as skills development in areas such as mathematics and communications.