Board of Governors approves Indigenous Education Centre

Ground breaking for the new building is tentatively scheduled for Spring, 2024.

On Sept. 29, the TRU board governors unanimously passed a motion approving the construction of a $22-million Indigenous Education Centre on the campus.

The meeting took place on a day where TRU was also hosting various events in commemoration of the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation which was fitting according to TRU Vice President Matt Milovick.

“This a major commitment that the university is prepared to make towards truth and reconciliation,” Milovick said during the meeting.

Construction will begin during spring 2024 at the site of the former Cariboo Child Care Society which is a prime central location on TRU’s campus. If all goes as planned, Milovick said that the building could be opened to the public as early as September 2025.

In recent years the university has modernized its Old Main building and constructed both the Chappell Family Building for Nursing and Population as well as the Early Childcare Education Centre. The Indigenous Education Centre is the latest addition to TRU’s list of planned capital projects to enhance the campus. 

TRU’s Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc cultural advisor Garry Gotfreidson, was invited to sit at the board meeting table to explain the considerations that went into creating the centre.

“We’re right in the heart of the Secwépemc territory,” Gotfreidson said. “With the Secwépemc people, we’ve had different types of structures.”

With that in mind, Indigenous architect Patrick Stewart modeled the building’s design after traditional Secwépemc meeting houses. Once constructed, Kamloopsians may recognize a resemblance to various buildings on the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc reserve. In addition to Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc, Stewart consulted with various Indigenous staff and students at TRU during the planning process.

The space will be open to all students at the university and will be a place for cultural ceremonies, events, and workshops. Additionally, students will be able to attend classes and study during their time at TRU.

TRU’s executive director for the Office of Indigenous Education, Tina Matthew said that she is excited to see what TRU looks like with a solidified Indigenous space that will accommodate events throughout the year. Currently, there are several Indigenous spaces on campus, but they are scattered in varying locations.

“It’s really important that we work with Tk’emlúps on embedding [and] incorporating Secwépemc culture, language, art, everything that this building reflects,” Matthew said.

TRU has one of the largest Indigenous populations for a post-secondary institution with over 2000 students currently enrolled. The creation of an Indigenous Education Centre will aim to better represent and accommodate these students.