With summer holidays come and gone, new and returning Aurora College students at campuses across the NWT are hitting the books.
To help students settle into their new lives, each of the three main campuses, Aurora in Inuvik, Thebacha in Fort Smith and North Slave in Yellowknife, held orientation events.
“All of our orientations are geared towards helping students develop a sense of community on campus and a familiarity with the college and the community. A lot of our students are coming in from the small communities, so this is a great chance for them,” Sarah Tilley, campus director at Yellowknife’s North Slave Campus, told The Journal.
“This is one of the few times that all of our different programs can interact, so it’s great for the first week,” she said.
This year, the Yellowknife campus introduced self defense workshops during orientation week. Students from all programs were encouraged to take part as both a learning experience and a meet and greet activity.
“With students who come from the communities, we want to make them aware of personal safety when you’re in the city – how to be aware of your surroundings and handle yourself,” Tilley said.
At the Thebacha campus, orientation week continued with the tradition of holding cultural events such as the Dene hand games demonstration and the feeding of the fire ceremony.
This is the sixth year that Peter Paulette of the Smith’s Landing First Nation, a hand games player and instructor, was invited by campus staff to hold a workshop.
“Hand games is one of the bigger parts of our culture when we get together,” Paulette said. “We get students from up North who do play it back home, so it’s for them to gather and come together.”
Glenn Bourke, campus manager at Thebacha, said he felt this year’s orientation went well for helping new students feel at ease.
“That’s why we have orientation, to try and make them feel more comfortable,” he said.
Initial estimates from Thebacha show an increase in student enrollment at the campus this year.
“Our residences are full; we actually have waiting lists for our residences,” Bourke said.
Kara Hendrie, a returning student from Norman Wells, said she’s happy there are more students around campus.
“It will make the school more interesting with more faces,” she said.
Hendrie is in her second and last year of the Environment and Natural Resources Technology program. She said she expects this year will be more challenging, but she’s looking forward to it.
At the Aurora campus in Inuvik, orientation day, titled The Sky’s the Limit, included events such as merchandise bingo, street hockey, a softball tournament and children’s games for students with families.