Musqueam Territory / Richmond, B.C. (November 9, 2023): Today Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and Native Education College (NEC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), deepening the relationship between the two organizations and marking a significant step toward fostering cultural understanding, educational empowerment, and reconciliation.
At its core the MOU brings together YVR and NEC, creating opportunity for a range of joint initiatives that will benefit Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners, communities, and partners. Initiatives include scholarship programs, education and development resources, and ongoing communications and marketing activities to raise awareness of NEC and its mission to provide a culturally appropriate and supportive learning environment.
As part of this agreement, NEC will be providing annual Indigenous Cultural Awareness Training sessions for Vancouver Airport Authority employees. YVR and NEC will also collaborate on networking opportunities, marketing initiatives, and event planning.
“We are proud to partner with the Native Education College to support their work to develop a culturally appropriate and supportive learning environment for indigenous learners,” said Tamara Vrooman, President & CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority. “The signing of this MOU today lends YVR’s full support to create educational opportunities, cultural understanding, and drive meaningful change that will help communities thrive for generations to come.”
NEC works with First Nations, Métis, and Indigenous communities to deliver accredited post-secondary and adult upgrading programs in locations throughout British Columbia. NEC programs are developed with Indigenous content and teaching methods for Indigenous learners on its campus in east Vancouver.
With a legacy that spans generations and a foundation laid by the late Musqueam Chief, Gertrude Guerin, NEC stands as a unique learning institution, enabling individuals to achieve their educational and career aspirations while staying true to their cultural heritage.
“The Native Education College, over the years, has helped numerous Indigenous students from local and urban Indigenous communities, allowing students to participate and share their culture and teachings within the college without the fear of discrimination and bullying,” said Kim Guerin and Trudi Harris, granddaughters of late Musqueam Chief Gertrude Guerin, co-founder of NEC.
“Our grandmother, Gertrude Guerin, helped create a learning environment suited for Indigenous learners that involved an education with culture and a sense of belonging when they walk through the college’s doors. She had a vision of our own people teaching our own people, becoming principals and professors. If she could see it now, it all came true.”
"Our learners are our inspiration. It is the journey of each and every learner whose dedication and perseverance truly measures the success of NEC. These remarkable humans invoke pride and the commitment in our staff to continue to walk with us through change to achieve the rights of Indigenous Peoples to have a culturally relevant educational experience," said Tammy Harkey, President at NEC and Councillor at Musqueam.
Today’s announcement builds on YVR’s commitment to advancing reconciliation and walking together with Musqueam under its 30-year Sustainability and Friendship Agreement, which is based on friendship and respect to achieve a sustainable future for the community and the lands on which the airport operates.
This MOU stands in addition to partnership agreements that YVR has in place with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada, Indigenous Tourism BC, and Iskwew Air.