KPU Partners with Native Education College to Teach Indigenous Land Stewardship

A transfer to KPU is available for students who have the NEC certification


The Native Education College and Kwantlen Polytechnic University have partnered up to allow students at NEC pursuing an Indigenous land Stewardship certificate to obtain a Bachelor’s in Horticulture Urban Ecosystems at KPU.

NEC already offers a one-year certificate course in the Indigenous Land Stewardship program.

According to David Tracey, program coordinator and instructor for the Indigenous Land Stewardship program, students can transfer all credits earned towards their certificate.

Tracey says the partnership will broaden the opportunities available to Indigenous students who want to learn about Indigenous land stewardship through the NEC program and build on their knowledge with the KPU Horticulture program.

“For Indigenous Land Stewardship, we only have the one year to offer, so for students who take that year and get excited about the opportunities in Indigenous Land Stewardship, it’s great to have somewhere they can go to keep studying,” he says.

In terms of facilitating the program during the pandemic, Tracey says the Indigenous Land Stewardship program includes both an online and classroom version. Students can take the online course from anywhere in Canada.

Tracey says the classroom version of the program poses more of a challenge since the courses take place in a longhouse in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver. He says the classes will be online rather than in person in the fall due to the pandemic.

“Indigenous communities tend to be more vulnerable than many [during COVID-19]. Many people are in contact … with Elders. People may have immune systems that are somewhat compromised so we need to be really careful about how we look at this pandemic,” he says.

KPU Horticulture Urban Ecosystems instructor Kathy Dunster says this collaboration will benefit students at both institutions. At NEC, Dunster adds the program can help students become more “well-grounded so that they can work within their home communities or “stay urban Indigenous but be more connected to projects in the Lower Mainland.”

In a KPU news release, Dunster said the program will offer students hands-on experience with a salmon stream post-colonial ecosystem repair project, greenhouses, a rooftop research garden, and working in the Logan Creek floodplain forest around KPU’s Langley campus.

She anticipates that the program will be “quite busy” in the fall.

In the news release, she said that the collaboration has the power to “strengthen [the] commitment to Indigenous people and their rights to social and environmental justice, which includes the scientific and Indigenous knowledge to achieve food sovereignty, and land and water protection” at KPU.


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