Bow Valley College

BELONGING

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.

Inclusive spaces

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.

Student testimonials  

  • “The Iniikokaan Centre has made my first year of college great.”
  • “I have always felt welcomed at Iniikokaan. All the programs are very flexible.”
  • “Listening to the Elders speak in the online Teams sessions; having the virtual smudge on Mondays has been appreciated more than you could know.”

Inclusive practices

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.

Participant feedback

  • Examples and discussions around EDI practices and principles were highly applicable in various situations
  • These workshops helped them understand the importance of inclusion through language and actions
  • Discussions around microaggressions and implicit bias were meaningful in the process of self-reflection and navigating various situations in their personal, academic, and professional lives
  • Participants expressed interest in wanting to engage in conversations around EDI topics further

EMPOWERING

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:

  • Matched Savings Bursary Program
  • “Seasons of Savings” Indigenous Matched Savings Bursary Program

 

  • Financial Need Emergency Bursaries
  • Financial Aid and Awards Advising

Financial stressors

A survey of students before the pandemic demonstrates the toll financial difficulties can take on a student and why supports are critical.

Student testimonials

  • “I have lost sleep due to money stress, loss of appetite, I can’t concentrate in class or while trying to study or complete assignments.”
  • “Depressed, anxiety, hopelessness, panic attack.”
  • “It has created a huge amount of stress in a sense that I have felt very depressed and my regard for my own personal health has been neglected.”
  • “It affects my school so much that I sometimes feel like quitting school.”
  • “I always think about how to earn money. It is chronic stress.”
  • “Lack of sleep, insufficient effort towards assignments, lack of motivation, exhaustion.”
  • “Due to the lack of money, I have missed class because I haven’t had anything to take to eat.”

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.

Student testimonials

  • “The accommodations for my disability made it possible for my success.”
  • “My program was incredibly helpful in guiding me in the right direction of where I want to go next with my career.”

 

 

  • “I did not grow up with a lot of positive male role models and many of our speakers are leaders in the community and shared their stories of struggles and successes as Indigenous men.
  • “I am encouraged and inspired to rejoin my community and work hard to become a good role model for other Indigenous men and women.

Our Iniikokaan Centre offers an Indigenous Leadership Program. One student felt compelled to recognize how connecting with Elders is beneficial:

Student testimonial

“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.”

EMBRACING

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.

Student testimonials

  • “Thank you so much for creating such an amazing opportunity to learn from incredible Elders and Indigenous peers. I feel extremely honoured to receive each teaching and be part of such a compassionate group.”
  • “Iniikokaan Centre is AWESOME! Take part of the beading classes, get yourself a smudge kit & listen to the elders, their stories are amazing.”

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.

Pride Week

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.

Indigenous Grad

We hold a semi-annual Indigenous Graduation Celebration, a grad luncheon, and an Indigenous graduation medicine bag transfer ceremony.

Student testimonial

“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

  • Indigenous Awareness Month Activities
  • Indigenous Veterans event

 

  • Indigenous learner welcome event
  • Indigenous Careers Awards
  • International Day for Persons with Disabilities event
  • Annual National Depression Screening Day initiative
  • Annual Intercultural Week
  • Acknowledgement of place (Indigenous territory) to open all significant College events, including graduation, new student orientation, and official welcomes

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