BRANTFORD — Six Nations Polytechnic’s new Brantford Campus is headed towards a bustling inaugural fall season. Administration teams are hustling to get the new city campus on Elgin Street ready for the class of 2016.
After years of negotiating to acquire the property, Six Nations Polytechnic CEO Rebecca Jamieson said the school was able to successfully work with current property owners Innovative Blast Technologies — who purchased the entire Elgin campus in 2014.
“Initially, Six Nations Polytechnic tried to purchase the building but was unsuccessful, at which point we entered into a lease with the current owner.”
That lease includes a partnership with the RISE (Realize Individual Success Everyday) Centre, which is home to a multi-complex athletic facility servicing youth and young adults in athletic training, nutrition and sports medicine.
Developing partnerships is something that is a strong heritage of Six Nations Polytechnic.
The institute opened the doors to higher learning on the territory in 1993, providing a local space for Ontario accredited post-secondary schools to deliver their programs to students locally.
Now in 2016 ‘Polytech’ is recognized for delivering indigenous knowledge and providing access to education and services, with multiple facilities providing learning and services to a broad student body.
Mohawk College is one of those partner institutions and Indigenous Education Co-ordinator Amy Kelaidis says the coming season of classes at the Brantford campus have got the entire network of staff and partner facilities excited to see what fruits come of the vision.
“Six Nations has been known as a hub for a long time as far as indigenous knowledge transmission but to finally see it in a place where there are multiple institutions working together for the same student body — its not just Mohawk, its not just Six Nations but it’s also the Rise Centre and how they’re contributing to it. It’s the City of Brantford and how they are contributing to it. All of our student services coming together to service the same student body. In the past its been Mohawk students get serviced by Mohawk staff, Mac students get serviced by Mac staff. But here it’s going to be a joined effort and to see how many people are going to be putting effort into the student success – I can’t wait to see it because I know its going to be so amazing,” said Kelaidis.
Her anticipation was echoed by several staff at a recent Open House event held at the campus.
Brantford Campus Manager Connie Greubel said there are so many new possibilities that are open to take students towards a successful career.
“Our focus is on making sure that the students that come here succeed. It’s about being able to get a career doing something you love, making enough money so your family can live a good life. I think that programs that were offering here are going to do that on people.”
Programs at the Brantford Campus include several new to the school for 2016 — including Indigenous Visual Arts as a shared program with the Ontario College of Art & Design, Pre-trades and technology shared with Sault College and Police Foundations with Aboriginal Communities shared with Mohawk College.
Both the Police Foundations course and the Practical Nursing course offer a specialized focus on working within indigenous communities. This gives Six Nations Polytechnic graduates a potentially strong competitive edge when it comes to job placements in a new culture of Truth and Reconciliation in Canada.
Director of Student Services Taina Lickers says the TRC recommendations for education will eventually trickle down into post secondary learning throughout the country — but because Polytech is an indigenous provider they are ahead of the game in terms of educating the student body on First Nations issues.
Lickers said, “It’s weaved throughout all of the programming that Polytech offers already. Now they’re tying it into those recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that now exist.”
Lickers said that creating a student body culture where students are cradled during their time in school and provided with services to help them succeed are high on the priority list for all staff — and the vision is grand including accessible transportation for students from Hamilton to Six Nations and Brantford.
“We’ve just submitted a proposal to the Province of Ontario through the Poverty Reduction strategy. The proposal centred around having an inner campus transportation model so we can get students from the Six Nations campus and vice versa,” said Lickers.
“But also part of that local poverty reduction strategy part of that is connecting the Six Nations community members with services that are provided here in the city that they otherwise might not have access to. So we’re looking at building those partnerships to bring them here to the Brantford campus not only to service our students but to service our community as well,” said Lickers.
The school is definitely quickly going to become a major contender for continuing education in Southern Ontario, and it is open to students of all backgrounds.
Greubel said, “The campus here is open to anybody in the community so we’re looking at transportation at more then just from Ohsweken but from Hamilton and Brantford as well. For people who drive we have a massive parking lot that is free. There is no cost to students for parking.”
Polytechnic is still accepting applications for the Fall 2016 semester. For more information look online at www.snpolytechnic.com.