New Keyano college campus opens doors in Fort Chip

New Keyano college campus opens doors in Fort Chip
Minister of Advanced Education Greg Weadick (second from left) and Keyano College president Kevin Nagel (centre), along with other dignitaries, led the ribbon cutting ceremony outside the new, orange campus building, which was designed to represent the Keyano College logo.Photo by Sean McLennan.

Keyano College’s new Fort Chipewyan campus was officially inaugurated last Tuesday during its grand opening ceremony.

Representatives from the Alberta government, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, local Aboriginal governments, industry sponsors and the campus community were there to share in the celebration.

“This is the farthest north campus in Alberta located in the longest continuously inhabited settlement in Alberta. It is an opportunity for the people of Fort Chipewyan to stay at home and study,” Greg Weadick, Alberta’s minister of Advanced Education and Technology, told students, staff and community members at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “A college is a centre of community – where arts and culture thrives. This fits into the Campus Alberta model whereby education is accessible to everyone.”

Keyano College has been offering courses in Fort Chipewyan in leased spaces for over 30 years. The new building will accommodate more students and give the college a permanent home in the hamlet.

The campus’ new chair, Margo Vermillion, who originally hails from Fort Chipewyan, said she believes the building will become a hub of education for the whole community.

“The community is going to feel they finally have a place where adult education can really move forward through having their own facility,” she told The Journal. “The whole intention of the campus is to have the doors open for more to offer the community.”

Vermillion said having the library open to the public, as well as evening classes in computer training, Dene and Cree language and cultural activities, such as beading and quilting, will make sure the facility is taken advantage of.

“The sky is the limit in terms of what we can do with this building,” she said.

Architecturally designed to replicate the Keyano logo, the Fort Chipewyan campus facility cost approximately $3.5-million. It contains seven classrooms equipped with educational equipment such as SMARTBoards, a student lounge, and the sunny new Jeanne MacIntyre Library, named after the first campus chair in Fort Chipewyan.

“Today is an exciting day for Keyano College,” said Dr. Kevin Nagel, president and CEO of Keyano College. “Congratulations to everyone who worked on making this a reality. This grand opening is a new beginning.”

Weadwick and Nagel performed the ribbon cutting. Representatives from the project’s key donors – Shell, Total E&P, Enbridge and Imperial Oil – were recognized for their contributions with commemorative artwork at the opening as well.

Approximately 50 students are enrolled in studies at the Fort Chipewyan campus.

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