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Circle gives eduction a boost (at Georgian College).


If you're an Aboriginal person interested in a career in tourism, the gaming and hospitality industries, or health or social service administration, or you just want to build a strong educational foundation before you begin your post-secondary studies, the courses you're looking for are available to you at Georgian College.

The programs are offered through a partnership between the Anishnabe Education and Training Circle (AETC) and the college.

The AETC is comprised of 15 Aboriginal communities and organizations. Membership in the Circle includes: the Barrie Area Native Advisory Circle; the Barrie Native Friendship Centre; the Beausoleil First Nation; the Be-Wab-Bon Metis Association; the Chippewas of Nawash; the Chippewas of Rama First Nation; the Georgian Bay Native Friendship Centre; the Georgina Island First Nation; the Metis Nation of Ontario; the Mohawks of Wahta; the Ontario Metis Council; the Parry Sound Friendship Centre; the Rama & Area Native Women's Association; the Sweetgrass Women's Association; and the Wasauksing First Nation. The mandate of the Circle, according to information issued by Georgian College, is "to provide culturally-appropriate and Anishnabe-controlled post-secondary education."

The Circle's ultimate goal is development of a "Circle of Aboriginal Learning which is spirit centered, culturally driven, and based on holistic learning for the continuation of the Native way of life."

Georgian College is located near Georgian Bay in Ontario, with campuses in Barrie, Orillia and Owen Sound, and several regional campuses in the surrounding areas.

Brian Charles is Native community liaison for the AETC at Georgian College.

Charles said the partnership between the AETC and Georgian College began in 1992 when the provincial government made funds available for Native education through the Native Education and Training Strategy. To access the money, he explained, institutions first had to be partnered with a community-based Native education circle. The partnership was formed, and the first jointly sponsored program was offered beginning in 1995.

Four programs are currently being offered by the AETC through the college's Native education department: Aboriginal Tourism Management, Foundations of Gaming and Resort Operations, Native Education: Community and Social Development, and the Shki-Miikan Foundation Year program.

The Foundations of Gaming and Resort Operations program is offered at Georgian College's Orillia campus, while the remaining three are offered at the Barrie campus.

The Shki-Miikan (New Road) Foundation Year program, Charles explained, is a one-year certificate program designed for students unsure of what they want to do or where they want to go, or for those who have been out of the education system for some time. Through the program students build a strong educational foundation to help them in whatever they choose to do next, whether it be further post-secondary study or employment.

The Foundations of Gaming and Resort Operations program is another one-year program designed to provide students with the training they need to work in the gaming and hospitality industries. Charles said the program was developed because of the college's proximity to Casino Rama, located about half-an-hour outside of Barrie in the community of Mnjikaning.

The Native Education: Community and Social Development program is a two-year coop diploma program designed to give students the skills needed to work on the administrative-side in health and social service settings. Charles explained that, although some of the graduates of the program do go on to work on the service delivery side, the main focus is on developing skilled administrators.

The program was developed in response to a need identified by members of the Circle, Charles said, who in the past have often had to go outside the community to find people qualified to handle the business side of health and social service programs.

The Aboriginal Tourism Management program is a brand-new, three-year program, being offered.

"We think it is quite unique across the country," Charles said.

The program fills a need for people interested in getting into the tourism industry, and helps them see how it links to economic development.

Whatever form of tourism a person is interested in, from running a gas station or a marina, to getting involved in eco-tourism, cultural tourism or heritage tourism, the program will help them "to be able to do that, and not sell out their culture or history."

Each of the programs offered by the AETC and Georgian College includes courses with an Aboriginal focus, teaching students about Native history, traditions and culture, and providing a Native framework in which other information in the program can be presented.

For more information about any of the programs offered by the AETC and Georgian College, contact Brian Charles at (705) 728-1968, ext. 1317. You can also e-mail Charles at, or access information about the programs at the Georgian College web site at
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Author:Petten, Cheryl
Publication:Wind Speaker
Date:Mar 1, 2000
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