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VIU gathering donations

Sharon Hobenshield

Corporate contributions are playing a key role in the creation of Shq’apthut: A Gathering Place, the new Aboriginal Centre on Vancouver Island University’s Nanaimo campus.

A $50,000 donation toward the $3.6-million, 5,000-square-foot structure comes from Great-West Life and London Life, through its national corporate citizenship program.

“We’re delighted to be part of this unique meeting place that serves as a great resource for First Nations students as well as the larger community,” said Reid McGruer, regional director, Freedom 55 Financial, a division of London Life Insurance Company.

Phase 1 of the building was completed last summer, including a student lounge, elders lounge and office space for VIU’s Aboriginal Student Services department.

Although an official opening of the new building will take place in April, staff moved into new office space in December.

The design and construction of Shq’apthut meets the gold standard for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Students in VIU’s first Aboriginal construction program gained important experience by helping lay the foundation and assisting with the installation of the support beams for the building.

The contribution by Great-West and London Life pushes community donations to more than $500,000. Fundraising efforts continue to raise an additional $1.8-million for Phase 2, which includes landscaping and a ceremonial hall.

In recognition of the contribution from Great-West Life and London Life, the path alongside Shq’apthut will be named after the companies.

“We deeply appreciate the support of companies such as Great-West and London Life,” said VIU president Ralph Nilson. “The Gathering Place will foster understanding, appreciation and respect for First Nations heritage not only among Aboriginal students but throughout the university community and beyond.”

For more information on Shq’apthut: A Gathering Place, to see the plans or to make a donation, please visit or contact Vancouver Island University Foundation at 250-740-6212 or