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Royal Roads University in Colwood boosts Indigenous environmental leadership

Initial pilot for free program will see 20 students work toward certificate
Royal Roads University has launched a free pilot program for Indigenous students to earn a certificate in Indigenous Environmental Leadership. (Black Press Media file photo)

Royal Roads University has launched a new certificate program offering Indigenous students an opportunity to launch their professional or academic careers in environmental leadership.

Billed by the school as the first of its kind in Canada, the Certificate in Indigenous Environmental Leadership Pathways is a free pilot program designed with and for Indigenous leaders.

“This program takes issues like climate change, biodiversity loss and access to safe drinking water, and trains leaders to address these critically important problems in their own communities,” school of environment and sustainability professor Leslie King stated in a release.

READ MORE: National Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations pack Royal Roads University

Indigenous knowledge, values and worldviews are embedded in the program’s design, she added.

Beyond providing training for new or existing environmental leaders, the program is designed to serve as a springboard into other post-secondary degree programs. It is designed to accommodate working students or those with family or community obligations, and provides opportunities for students to participate from their home communities.

The certificate program includes four consecutive courses which will run from August to June 2023. The first three asynchronous courses will be followed by a final practicum, where students work directly with an organization to address environmental issues in their nation or community.

Students will have access to a supervisor, an academic advisor and a $1,000 grant to help with costs provided by the Environmental Careers Organization of Canada.

RRU director of Indigenous engagement, Asma-na-hi Antoine, said the program and the work of these students is critical to addressing urgent environmental challenges.

“This is a pathways program into some of the urgency we see on Mother Earth, that urgency we see in building relations, that urgency we see in wanting to do things in the right way and walking together,” she said.

Funded by the federal government, the initial pilot program will accommodate 20 students under the age of 31.

READ MORE: Trio of Vancouver Island schools partner on new climate action leadership program

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About the Author: Goldstream News Gazette Staff

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