Remembering my mother

my mother and my strength

I have been given huge burdens in my life this past year.  The  one  thing that has been solid and positive in my life  is my school and the staff at the Native Education College.   The staff is phenomenal and caring beyond  a call of duty. The wonderful people around me at the college have helped me sustain my life and help me remember that I  have a strong place in this world, and all my educational goals can be reached and my dreams can be met and achieved.   My mother was  an alumni of NEC and beloved  by the staff and community. Thank you to the Native Education College, I could not have done this without you. And my daughter, thanks to you as well.


Family means so many things, and being native it means so much more. I can remember as a little child growing up going to potlaches/gatherings and such and being asked “whose your grandparents??” whose your parents??” where are you from??”

After being interrogated on who I was and where I was from and hearing “ooooh, I’m your Auntie,” or “my brother was married to your uncle’s sister,” or “holah! I remember when you were just a baby: I changed your diapers!”  I could never remember who this lady was that was interrogating me and yet I couldn’t help feel the love this women had for me.

So all that being said, coming to NEC made me feel like that: made feel safe, warm and confident. I can’t help but embrace my knowledge and passion to learn and grow while I’m in this building. Since I’ve started my program I have met new friends and people I haven’t seen in a while. I’m excited at coming to school everyday to see everyone’s smiling faces and open hearts.

At the end of it all I know I’m gonna be sad when I graduate from my program but proud at the same time. I’ve come so far and learned so much and had that sense of “home” in everyday that I was here.

The Bright Nights at Stanley Park

Since moving here 3 years ago we have made it a point to go see the lights at The Stanley Park Bright Nights.

It is an event put up by the Vancouver Park Board and the BCProfessional Fire Fighters Burn Fund. I was asked by my mother whether I go for the lights or the fire fighters. With a smile on my face, I told her both!

Their reflective gear made them look Bright.

Each Year the local fire fighters seem to be able to have all the lights set up different. I am always amazed at all the lights and what they can do with the lights. My family and I walked around and looked at all the different displays of characters, figures and lights. Then we listened to the sounds of the entertainers, while my daughter got her face painted. While standing around we saw the Gingerbread Man, and Santa, and that of course got our kids all excited.

Usually we get a train ride, but unfortunately it was raining hard and our kids were getting cold. But we are hoping that someday before Christmas day it will be nice and maybe even snow. Then we will go back and do it all again.

When we finished we all went for our usual Coffee or Hot Chocolate at Tim Hortons, to help us warm up. I love our family traditions that we have created here in the lower mainland. It just wouldn’t feel like Christmas if we didn’t get to go see the lights at Bright Nights in Stanley Park.

If you haven’t been, I suggest you go bring your family and/or friends. I hope you will enjoy the lights like my family and I did.

Have a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year!

Endeavours in Entrepreneurship

I attended an entrepreneurship program between October and December. The program is called the Aboriginal Business and Entrepreneurship Skills Training program or “Aboriginal BEST”. Once you get past the acronym, it’s a really good program. The program is funded by the federal and provincial governments, so it’s free for First Nation, Métis and Inuit people as part of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation policy.

The program is for people who have a solid idea and want to see it happen, and for those who have an interest in business but no specific idea as of yet, and to be honest, anyone in-between. This is the impression I got anyways, with the motivational instruction of Flavio Caron, who was one of the program coordinators for the Aboriginal BEST program.

There are twelve sessions, including the following topics :

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Market Research
  • Competitors, Competition and Competitive Advantage
  • Marketing
  • Laws and Insurance
  • Funding: Where will you get the Money?
  • Tax, Suppliers, the Hired Help, Production Process and Capability, Professional Advisors, Financial Institutions
  • Personal Budget and Net Worth
  • Costs and Pricing
  • Start Up and Cash Flow
  • Technology
  • Business Plan Executive Summary

The amount of material may seem intimidating, but it’s really not, because the coordinators are extremely friendly and accommodating and they allow you to go at your own pace.

Personally, I love learning about business and the aspects of running a business, but I have never had so much fun while soaking in so much information.  A lot of it had to do with the fact that I really enjoyed the topic, but a lot of it also had to do with just being around so many like-minded people.

If you’ve ever considered running a business , I would really encourage you to take a look at the Aboriginal BEST website and get a hold of the contact in your area. Best of luck!

Suggestions for a Conservation Program at NEC

I would like to start a Conservation Program at the school and I would be happy to have the support of the students and staff. NEC’s traditional longhouse design, with it’s cedar post and beam construction, botanical garden, large bay windows and skylights brings elements of the natural world into the busy city and transforms the atmosphere of the school. However, some of the inefficiencies relating to its 1985 construction are evident.

Here are some of my ideas to improve energy efficiency:

  • Add window film to windows
  • Switch to T8 fluorescent lighting
  • Add weather-stripping to windows
  • Install efficient-flow aerators on faucets
  • Set up the power-saving mode on computers
  • Install water displacement devices in the toilets

BC Hydro’s Power Smart Product Incentive Program offers rebates to organizations for switching to more efficient lighting, as well as for other technologies.

Meanwhile, all of my other suggestions are easily affordable, do-it-yourself projects. Not to mention, these are just some things I came up with a brief observation of the school. There might be other opportunities for cost savings and conservation, even though I notice great initiatives toward conservation already.

BC Hydro also offers programs for residential customers, that may benefit you:

1)    The Energy Saving Kit Program

BC Hydro and Terasen Gas partnered to provide free energy saving kits for low income households. Our free kit offers a variety of simple ways to help you save energy.

Follow the link below, for information on how to apply:

2)    The Energy Conservation Assistance Program

The Energy Conservation Assistance Program (ECAP) will provide qualified low-income BC Hydro residential account holders with a home energy evaluation, the installation of energy saving products, and personalized energy efficiency advice. All of this is free of charge to the participant.

Energy saving products that may be installed include:

  • Energy saving light bulbs (compact fluorescent lamps) indoor and outdoor,
  • Faucet aerators for the kitchen and bathroom,
  • Low-flow showerhead,
  • Water heater pipe wrap and blanket,
  • Draft proofing, such as weatherstripping, caulking and outlet gaskets,
  • Insulation for attics, walls and crawlspaces,
  • Low-wattage night light,
  • ENERGY STAR® refrigerator

Every home is different. Your home evaluator will determine which energy efficiency upgrades your home is eligible for. The installation of some products may require multiple visits.

Follow the link below, for information on how to apply:

Why this college?

Why this college as opposed to another college?  To be truthful I did apply at VCC to begin with.  I got accepted there and then  realized that NEC offered Business Office Technology.

The application process here was more straightforward.  I know it is fate that I ended up here.  It is so comfortable here, kind of like my home away from home.  I feel very welcome here and the classes are much smaller.  As soon as I stepped foot in the door I made immediate friends whereas if I walked into another college I would have felt very intimidated.

The smaller class atmosphere makes it easier to get one-on-one help and this is what makes it unique.  I really love the longhouse shape of the building  So why this college I say once again.  I say because it is the best place to be.  It is number one in my books and I know I would have a lot of people that would agree with me.  So if you’re looking into going back to school and you want to succeed with pride of being a First Nations Student, apply at NEC.  They’re the absolute best!

Scholarships, bursaries and funding sources

If you are looking to go back to school or to stay in school, but money is an issue for you, there are many scholarships and bursaries available that can help you with funding.  Here are a few of them:

The Irving K. Barber British Columbia Scholarship Society supports post-secondary education by providing scholarships for students attending public post-secondary institutions. Awards vary from $1000-$3500

The BC Aboriginal Student Awards (BCASA) support gaining access to post-secondary education. The award is available to students who begin their first or second year of a program of study between January 1, 2010 and May 15, 2011. Application for these awards have not yet been posted for 2011.


RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program

The RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program was launched in 1992 to assist Aboriginal students to complete post-secondary education, and provide an opportunity for RBC to strengthen its relationship with the Aboriginal community. Selected students are awarded up to $4,000 each academic year for two to four years to use towards tuition, textbooks, supplies and living expenses.

RBC awards 10 scholarships in two categories:

  • For students majoring in disciplines related to the financial services industry
  • For students majoring in disciplines unrelated to the financial services industry

We also consider scholarship recipients who are interested in careers in financial services for summer and post-graduate employment.

Who is eligible

You are eligible to apply to the RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program if you are a Status Indian*, a Non-status Indian, Inuit or Métis and meet these criteria:

  • You are a permanent resident or citizen of Canada
  • You have been accepted to or are currently attending an accredited post-secondary institution in Canada
  • You maintain a full course load that leads to a recognized degree, certificate or diploma
  • You have two to four years remaining in your current academic program
  • You require financial assistance to pursue your education

If you are already receiving partial funding from other sources, you may still apply to the RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program to cover additional educational and living expenses.

Application Process

Please note we have made some changes to the application process:

  • We have a new application period. Applications can be submitted between December 1 and February 28 each academic year before the fall start date.
  • We have streamlined the application process to make it easier for students to apply.
  • Also note, as part of your application you must provide a letter of recommendation and a school transcript.

Please contact the following email address if you have questions about the program.

I strongly encourage everyone to share any information you think may help others. Education is an important tool that I wish was more easily accessible for short and long term goals.

Good luck!!!

Surviving at NEC

As a returning student I’ve picked up a few tips on student life. The purpose of this blog is to help you by giving you great advice. So grab a cup of coffee, kick back and read!

Teachers:  OK, the first thing you need while attending at NEC is a good teacher.  Having a good teacher will help you learn more and it helps when you have a good connection with them. I know that when I have a really good teacher, learning comes more naturally and easily.

Single Parent Life

I know a few people who are single parents and they have to deal with the whole balancing act. Use the following:

  • Make a schedule
  • Prepare meals ahead of time so you don’t spend forever getting it done. Prepare beforehand, throw whatever in the oven and serve!
  • Search the web and community centres for daycare. You can also ask fellow parents for advice.
  • Join a single parent club
  • Join a homework club


You also have to keep your stress and depression levels in check. It’s natural for all students to have high stress and medium to high levels of depression. Try and keep positive and not dwell on the negative. If you feeel stressed or irritated, use the following:

  • Take a 5 min break to walk around inside the school
  • Take deep breaths
  • Get some fresh air
  • Think of something you like. Eg. Animals have a calming affect, think of your pet and how much they mean to you.
  • Talk to a friend
  • Join a monthly group and talk about your feelings. You’ll be surprised to find how much you have in common with them.

In conclusion, life is tough when you are a student. Stressed emotions, sore body due to stress and demand of work load. It can be easier when you know what to do.

Take a walk or think of your loved ones, you can be a survivor!

Food at NEC: Yum yum !

In this blog, you’ll learn about the food here at NEC. The catering staff that work here are often first nations people themselves so it makes it feel a bit more comfortable. What makes the food here unique is that it often has a first nation cuisine which isn’t offered at any other college. What I think about when it comes to NEC is the FOOD!!!!

I like having food at the cafeteria for several reasons. First and foremost, the catering staff makes the food taste like it’s homemade and has a home-like feel when you sit down to eat.  It’s a nice surprise to see what’s being served at lunch. The best thing at NEC is that the catering company serves some traditional foods and non-traditional food. I like having Indian tacos for any lunch or dinner meal. For myself, I like having the chili served on the side when I have Indian tacos.

Some other things on the menu include breakfast items such as a fried egg sandwitch, french toast, pancakes and porriage. There’s many other things that the kitchen offers like discounts for coffee. If you buy a certain amount coffee, you get one free which is pretty sweet.

The only downside to food at NEC is that there’s no lunch program so you have to bring in something like instant noodles or a can of soup. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing if you bring in any of those to eat, but it’s nice if you can have fried rice, Indian tacos or something else. Another thing is that the food can sometimes be expensive if you’re on a budget.  Food such as Indian Tacos or buttered chicken on rice can cost $5.25 a plate and soup with bannock can cost you $3.50. The menu price is decent compared to other places like resteraunts. The catering staff is great, they tend to smile alot and take time to have a quick chat with you. I had a nice chat with a chef who was a previous student here at NEC and now works in our kitchen.

In conclusion, the food at NEC is to be enjoyed while sitting at a table or by the fire. And on a cold day just sit in the lounge area and sip on a cup of tea while you laugh with your friends.

Eating with our Ancestors in Mind

My name is Sheena and I am halfway through the first year of Aboriginal Tourism Operations at NEC. I’m really enjoying it so far, the content is relevant, the staff and students are respectful, and the atmosphere at the school is simply beyond compare.

Eat Right for Your TypeIn the tourism industry, appearance is important, so I have started the Blood Type Diet for blood types O, in hopes to portray a healthy image. The blood type diet is a nutritional plan made famous by the book “Eat Right for Your Type.” It’s all about eating foods that are compatible with your blood type, for health and longevity.

These can be the same foods your ancestors ate or these can be exotic foods, metabolically similar to what your ancestors ate. According to your blood type, there are foods that work for you (which can have healing properties) or foods that work against you (which can have disease promoting properties).

If you’re anything like me, you’ve struggled to eat healthy, especially when pressed for time and faced with commitments like work or school.  This is my biggest dilemma, but I am finding ways to combat this issue and eat with my ancestor’s in mind, even in today’s fast paced times.  I am planning to share my favourite on-the-go recipes as well as my favourite quick and easy switches to the “Eat Right for Your Type” lifestyle.

So, if you’re blood type O and you’re interested in finding out what you can do to make a few simple changes towards a healthier you, take a look at my personal blog: On there, I will have examples of what has worked for me, what hasn’t, what tasted good, what didn’t, detailed week-by-week meal plans, instructional videos and useful resources I’ve come across along the way.