Since evolving from a federal government project in 1967, NEC embarks on a significant milestone of 50th years in helping Indigenous people pursue higher education and getting employed in their chosen profession. It first started as one classroom located on Howe Street in downtown Vancouver, BC. Ray Collins, the founder of NEC, realized it was difficult for Indigenous people to find a job when they first moved to the city from their small rural First Nation community. He identified the main reasons were due to a lack of training or essential skills.
Since the humble beginnings, NEC Alumni reflect on why they chose NEC as their first choice to pursue their studies. Time and time again, comments like “it felt like home away from home” or “I felt like I belonged”, which created a connection to the community and a sense of belonging for Indigenous people who relocated to Vancouver, BC.
Every year, NEC Alumni are recognized for making a difference in the lives of Indigenous people at the Annual Honouring Feast. These award recipients are highly innovative, dedicated, and professional when it involves their career, volunteer, or advocacy work in the community.
Five awards will be given out to community leaders and professionals from across the province at this year’s ceremony, which is taking place at the Musqueam Community Centre on April 26, 2018.
Community Service – This award is named after Wanda Bolton, a former NEC Program Coordinator and passionate advocate, as well as a teacher whom continuously demonstrated excellence in community service. This award recognizes NEC graduates who share their unique and important contributions in the community.
Education Excellence – This award is named after George Manuel, the influential Grand Chief that made a significant difference in how Indigenous people are considered at the National and International level. This award recognizes NEC graduates who have continued to pursue higher post-secondary education.
Leadership – This award is named after Chief Joe Mathias, the former Chief of Squamish Nation worked towards having Aboriginal Rights and Title recognized by the federal and provincial governments. This award recognizes NEC graduates who exemplify leadership in their careers and communities.
Visionary – This award is named after Gertie Guerin, one of the founding members of NEC that began the organization with a vision to have a place for Indigenous people to begin their learning journey. This award recognizes a former NEC Board Member who strives toward empowering Indigenous people.
2017 Academic Achievement – This award recognizes the accomplishments achieved by an NEC Alumni member who has demonstrated outstanding academic performance from the most recent year of the program.