The College of New Caledonia officially opened a 12-unit Indigenous student housing facility at its Prince George campus.
Construction of the Nahoonai-a building was completed in October 2020, but delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic meant students couldn’t begin moving in until the start of the 2021 fall semester. The name, which means “to find” or “to rediscover,” was chosen by Lheidli T’enneh elder Josie Paul.
"The Lheidli T'enneh First Nation is very pleased to help open the new Indigenous student housing complex at the College of New Caledonia. We thank the provincial government for its investment to create safe housing for Indigenous students," Lheidli T'enneh Chief Dolleen Logan said in a press release. "Our Nation is also honoured to have been part of the design and naming process for the new complex. CNC recognizes the value in working with its First Nations partners and we salute CNC for taking this approach."
The fully-furnished building is located next to the existing student housing on campus, and features a shared kitchen, living area, washrooms and laundry facility. Two of the 12 rooms in the building have additional accessibility for students with mobility challenges.
There is a two-room suite for an elder, who will live on site as a student mentor and advisor.
"I am confident Nahoonai-a will provide a welcoming and supportive home for students as they achieve their goals,” CNC president Dennis Johnson said in a press release. “I am also grateful for all those who have helped Nahoonai-a to become a reality."
CNC Students’ Union membership outreach co-ordinator Damon Robinson said the new student housing will be a benefit for Indigenous students at the college.
“As a Gitxsan, it is heartwarming to see the acceptance and accommodation for Indigenous students attending CNC,” Robinson said in a press release. “Nahoonai-a creates an opportunity for reconciliation and a sense of home for students who may be coming from out of town, the same way I did in 2016.”
The B.C. government provided $5.3 million in funding to develop the Indigenous student housing.