At Bow Valley College, it is our mission to include all learners. We also value respect and inclusion. We live these core values through several meaningful initiatives and spaces. We want our students and employees to feel a genuine sense of belonging. That their cultures, traditions, identities, and Indigenous Ways of Knowing all contribute to the wonderfully diverse makeup of our College.
Bow Valley College recognizes the diversity of its student body and has been working towards creating more spaces of inclusion. We have gender-neutral washrooms, foot-washing stations, a Gender & Sexual Diversity Hub, and a multi-faith room. These spaces support the unique needs of our students and open conversation for the next steps in continuing to create inclusion on our campuses.
The Iniikokaan Centre – A “Buffalo Lodge” for all Nations
Indigenous peoples’ experiences, traditions, histories, and contributions are as diverse as the Nations themselves. Indigenous peoples experience complex and intersecting barriers to access, inclusion and success within Western Frameworks and environments. Addressing the legacy of Indian residential schools, systemic oppression, and loss of languages, cultures and ways of life is essential as we move toward reconciliation. As we learn to decolonize and introduce traditional teachings within student supports, policies and procedures, our learning journey continues. Below are some of the highlights of programs and measures to address challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples.
The Iniikokaan Centre is a gathering place that offers a variety of programs, including elder advising, ceremonial smudge, culturally relevant speakers, Indigenous scholarship and bursary information, and a gathering place study.
For our Indigenous students, access to Elders and cultural programming, smudge ceremonies, and storytelling at the Iniikokaan Centre provide a holistic support system.
Bow Valley College celebrates its diverse population with progressive practices that we are proud to offer.
Obtaining “official” documentation representing a change in name, a traditional Indigenous name, or a change in gender identity can a barrier for individuals to feel complete. At Bow Valley College, we use learners’ preferred name and/or their traditional Indigenous name in many official College documents with no need to provide documentation.
Students can opt to change their gender marker in our system at any time with no documentation needed. The College is required to record and report student gender in line with Government of Alberta framework.
Our learners can update their Indigenous status declaration at any time with many declaring self-identification after their entry based on the earned trust and safety of the College community.
There is no charge for a reissue of ID cards and parchments for students who transition shortly after graduation.
Learning and workshops
Bow Valley College offers a series of five training and development workshops centred around different Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) principles. These sessions provide tools to recognize and respond to oppression and marginalization with particular attention to creating awareness around EDI issues relating to the student experience. This series endeavours to empower students and staff to create authentic, brave, and courageous spaces that pave pathways towards belonging, cultural humility, and cultural safety at Bow Valley College.
Bow Valley College prides itself on its vision to open doors and open minds. As an access college, we include all learners and work hard to remove barriers.
We want our students to feel empowered to pursue higher education with information and access to supports meant to reduce financial barriers and financial stress.
Financial Empowerment has become fundamental and at the heart of the financial services offered at Bow Valley College. This is in response to learner needs and to support access and retention. Our approach is to provide holistic financial services and interventions through financial aid, scholarships, awards, and financial wellness.
Indigenous student application fee waivers
Students of Indigenous ancestry can apply to two programs annually – at no charge.
Admissions pathway project
We investigated the barriers, challenges, and experiences of our high school upgrading and English language learning groups. We identified several recommendations to improve students’ seamless journey into college-level education.
Coaching & financial programming
Bow Valley College has a full-time Financial Empowerment Coach, and we offer financial literacy workshops on budgeting, banking, credit/debt, fraud awareness, consumerism and much more. We also offer a budget boot camp and low-income tax clinics. Food security initiatives are also available such as having a low-cost fresh produce market on campus weekly (Fresh Routes), and emergency grocery gift cards.
Additional Financial Empowerment programming:
A survey of students before the pandemic demonstrates the toll financial difficulties can take on a student and why supports are critical.
Other forms of empowerment
Removing barriers and including all learners extends beyond the financial aspect of pursuing post-secondary education.
Some of our Indigenous learners shared anecdotes about how the Iniikokaan Centre’s support helped empower them on their academic journey.
Our Iniikokaan Centre offers an Indigenous Leadership Program. One student felt compelled to recognize how connecting with Elders is beneficial:
“Please pay my deepest respect and gratitude to Elder Francis First Charger for his teachings full of courage & wisdom. I am thankful to Keestin for making this wonderful opportunity possible. May we all learn more ways to learn, respect, and love each other for our differences.”
The College seeks ways to embrace our diversity further, challenge our thinking and create opportunities.
The Intercultural Centre
At our Intercultural Centre (IC), Bow Valley College students take part in events, activities and workshops that foster inclusion, creativity, teamwork, and resilience. The IC supports students in developing introductory skills in intercultural competence.
Our events, activities and workshops focus on building self-awareness, learning new perspectives, and engaging with diversity. Whether it’s learning something new through our presentations or volunteering in the community, we provide opportunities for our students to develop new skills and have meaningful interactions.
The Intercultural Centre’s programming encourages the Bow Valley College community to see itself as part of an interconnected world and develop truly global thinking.
Indigenous enrolment research and report
We are always learning and are humbled to walk alongside Indigenous students to support their vision of success. This means that we continue to learn about the different experiences before, during and after access to the College. We investigated the lived experiences of Bow Valley College’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students. We uncovered the types of barriers they face in their academics, student services, and community experience. We presented recommendations on how to decolonize business practices and create a learning environment that is more representative, inclusive, and welcoming to Indigenous learners and cultures.
The Iniikokaan’s Smudging ceremonies, Elder support, and information sessions are consistently mentioned as invaluable to our Indigenous students.
CELEBRATING & CONNECTING
Attending college is not just about academics. Bow Valley College encourages the personal development and creativity of its students. It
does so by celebrating our diverse community and supporting events that build connections.
Queer First Fridays
Queer First Fridays occur on the first Friday of the month. This initiative fosters a space for all employees and students to participate in deeper, interactive, engaging conversations or activities related to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. These sessions are not only awareness-centred but also invite Bow Valley College community members to lead such discussions.
Bow Valley College hosts pride week every year in February. This year’s theme centred around the concept of “belonging” and was a collective celebration of 2S LGBTQ+ individuals and communities at Bow Valley College. Throughout the week, Bow Valley College hosts events that engage all community members through various interactive and educational activities. Pride Week is a collaborative effort between the students’ union, students, and employees from diverse schools.
We hold a semi-annual Indigenous Graduation Celebration, a grad luncheon, and an Indigenous graduation medicine bag transfer ceremony.
“Thank you to everyone working at the Iniikokaan Centre for creating all of these amazing events and a welcoming gathering space for the Indigenous students on campus.”
Other events and celebrations