Opening doors and opening minds for Indigenous youth

Thu, Apr 28, 2022

More than 90 Indigenous youth from Langley, Surrey, Delta, Maple Ridge and North Vancouver were welcomed to Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Langley campus on Thursday, Apr. 28, for a special event.

Open Doors, Open Minds gave Indigenous high school students a taste of the post-secondary learning opportunities available to them at the university.

They were greeted by Lekeyten, KPU’s Elder in Residence, and Sqwayeten Cheryl Gabriel, an education coordinator with Kwantlen First Nation, who encouraged a sense of belonging and talked about the importance of education.

“When I look at each student sat there, I see five generations,” says Lekeyton later. “This person is going to create the next five generations. It’s their turn to teach the hearts and minds. If you stop education you’re going to stop life; there’s nothing left to learn, nothing left to fight for, nothing left to live for. If they keep learning, they’re going to be in a very good place.”

The keynote speaker for the day was award-winning CBC journalist Angela Sterritt, of the Gitxsan Nation, who shared with the guests her struggles as a youth with bullying and violence in schools.

“I was encouraging Indigenous youth to reflect on the limitless possibilities of their lives despite any barrier,” she says. “It’s important to know you have options at an educational level.”

Between the keynote speaker and a closing performance by dancers and drummers of the Pil’alt Warrior Canoe Family, the students attended classes in topics like horticulture, physics, biology, journalism, nursing, math, and computer aided design and drafting.

“The workshops were hands-on experiential learning opportunities that truly reflect KPU’s motto of ‘where thought meets action’,” says Steve Cardwell, KPU vice president, students. “We hope this experience shows high school students what is possible at KPU.”

Open Doors, Open Minds 2022